Di-isopropylfluorophosphate (DFP) labeled with phosphorus-32 was applied to fragments of the diaphragm and sternomastoid muscles of the mouse, in conditions in which it saturated all available sites at the motor endplates. After adequate washing and exchange with unlabeled DFP, single endplates were obtained by microdissection and their radioactivity was found by beta track radioautography. The number of sites phosphorylated by DFP-32P per endplate was relatively constant for each muscle: in the sternomastoid, about 9 x 107 sites per endplate, in the diaphragm, about 3 x 107. Reaction with DFP-32P was abolished by prior treatment with unlabeled DFP. Labeling was unaffected by prior fixation in formaldehyde, but was inversely proportional to the time of incubation in the Koelle staining medium, when this preceded labeling. The contribution of acetylcholinesterase (AChase) to this total number of DFP-reactive sites was determined by three methods. The first involved reactivation of the phosphorylated AChase by pyridine-2-aldoxime methiodide (2-PAM), in conditions in which the reactivation of other enzymes would be insignificant. The other two methods involved protection of the active centers of AChase from phosphorylation by labeled DFP by use of 284C51, an inhibitor highly specific for this enzyme, or by use of eserine. Each of these methods indicated that about 35% of the DFP-reactive sites at endplates of the sternomastoid and diaphragm are AChase. The mean number of AChase molecules was thus found to be 3.1 x 107 and 1.1 x 107per endplate in sternomastoid and diaphragm, respectively. No significant reaction of labeled DFP with muscle and nerve was observed. Mast cells in the muscle had a concentration of DFP-reactive sites far higher than the endplates.

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