We have studied the formation of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters and the behavior of myonuclei in rat and chick skeletal muscle cells grown in cell culture. These cells were treated with a factor derived from Torpedo electric extracellular matrix, which causes a large increase in their number of AChR clusters. We found that these clusters were located preferentially in membrane regions above myonuclei. This cluster-nucleus colocalization is explained by our finding that most of the nuclei near clusters remain relatively stationary, while most of those away from clusters are able to translocate throughout the myotube. In some cases, clusters clearly formed first, then nuclei migrated underneath and became immobilized. If clustered AChRs later dispersed, their associated nuclei resumed moving. These results suggest that AChR clustering initiates an extensive cytoskeletal rearrangement that causes the subcluster localization of organelles, potentially providing a stable source of newly synthesized AChRs for insertion into the cluster.

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