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What is the importance of acetylcholinesterase in muscle cell contraction?

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Quick Answer

Muscle cell contractions are initiated by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. It needs to be cleared from the synapse to allow the transmission of new signals to the muscle for initiating new contractions, without getting mixed with the old neurotransmitter. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine to stop the muscle cell contraction and prepare the system to receive a new signal

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Full Answer

Neurotransmitters transmit signals between the central nervous system and various parts of the body. In response to a stimulus, the brain or the spinal cord may initiate muscle cell contraction to enable movement. The neurotransmitter that signals muscle cell contraction is acetylcholine, and it is released in the synapse between the neuron and the muscle cell. If the acetylcholine that is released is not broken down, the muscle cells remain in a contracted state and cannot respond effectively to new signals from the brain. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme found in the synapse of the neuron and muscle cell, and it cleaves the acetylcholine into acetic acid and choline, thus inactivating it. It is one of the fastest-acting enzymes and can prepare the muscle cell for the next signal in 80 microseconds. If the acetylcholinesterase is inactivated through a toxin, and the acetylcholine is not destroyed, it accumulates in the synapse and results in muscle paralysis.

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