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The transmission of nerve impulses across synapses and the junctions between nerve and an effector organ (gland, muscle, nerve) is accomplished by the release of a chemical agent, acetylcholine. If actions within the central nervous system and at peripheral nerve terminations are to be kept localized and capable of repetition, acetylcholine must be destroyed or inactivated at or near the site of its release, and with great speed. The destruction of acetylcholine at such sites is accomplished by an enzyme, acetylcholinesterase. Present at the neurosynaptic junctions, acetylcholinesterase breaks acetylcholine into acetyl and choline fragments. Acetylcholinesterase functions to increase the precision of nerve firing, enabling some nerve cells to fire as rapidly as 1,000 times per second without overlap of the of the neural impulses.
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