In cholinergic neurons, high-affinity choline uptake in presynaptic terminals is the rate-limiting step in acetylcholine synthesis. Using information provided by the Caenorhabditis elegans Genome Project, we cloned a cDNA encoding the high-affinity choline transporter from C. elegans (cho- 1). We subsequently used this clone to isolate the corresponding cDNA from rat (CHT1). CHT1 is not homologous to neurotransmitter transporters, but is homologous to members of the Na+-dependent glucose transporter family. Expression of CHT1 mRNA is restricted to cholinergic neurons. The characteristics of CHT1-mediated choline uptake essentially match those of high-affinity choline uptake in rat brain synaptosomes.
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