Cat superior cervical ganglia (SCG), denervated preganglionically 6-8 d previously, were stained for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) by the bis-(thioacetoxy)aurate (I), or Au(TA)2, method and compared by electron microscopy with normal SCG described previously (Davis, R., and G. B. Koelle. 1978. J. Cell Biol. 78:785-809). In confirmation of earlier light microscopic findings by the highly specific copper thiocholine method, there was nearly a total disappearance of AChE from the ganglion; no myelinated or unmyelinated axons with AChE-stained axolemmas were found, and only occasional traces of AChE staining were noted at dendritic and perikaryonal plasma membranes. Considerable staining for BuChE persisted at the latter sites, however. As in the normal SCG, physostigmine-resistant staining, caused by noncholinesterase enzymes plus the possible presence of very low concentrations of AChE or BuChE, was noted at external mitochondrial membranes, elements of the endoplasmic reticulum of neurites and Schwann cells, and also in lysosomes. These findings confirm the previous identification of AChE-stained myelinated fibers in the normal SCG as preganglionic and of the unstained myelinated fibers as postganglionic. It is proposed that the maintenance of AChE at postsynaptic sites in normal ganglia is caused by the release of a trophic factor(s) from presynaptic terminals. The source of the postsynaptic BuChE, which is apparently completely absent from the endoplasmic reticulum of the ganglion cells, remains unexplained.

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