The C. elegans unc-18 gene is required to maintain normal acetylcholine levels. We determined the complete structure of an unc-18 cDNA that encodes a protein of 591 highly charged and hydrophilic amino acids. The protein shows sequence similarity with elements of the secretory pathway in the yeast S. cerevisiae. Antibodies raised against a portion of the unc-18-encoded protein (UNC-18) detected a 68 kd soluble antigen on immunoblots and intensely stained all ventral cord motor neurons in situ. These findings suggest that UNC-18 participates in the axonal transport system and influences the acetylcholine flow in motor neurons.
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