Acetylcholinesterase

The enzyme acetylcholinesterase hydrolyses acetylcholine to form choline and acetic acid. Histochemical staining shows that this enzyme is greatly concentrated in the synaptic cleft and especially in the folds of the subsynaptic membrane. Its function is to hydrolyse the acetylcholine so as to limit the time during which it is active after being released by a motor nerve impulse.

A number of substances inhibit the action of acetylcholinesterase; they are known as anticholinesterases. They include the alkaloid eserine and the organophosphorus insecticides.

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