We are interested in the molecular mechanisms of the regulation of neurotransmitter related gene expression by neurotrophic factors and neuronal activity. Previous work has shown that conditioned medium of muscle cells induces choline acetyltransferase (CAT) activity and represses tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine-beta-hydroxylase and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) activities in cultured sympathetic neurons. Here, we show that a new muscle-derived cell line secretes two factors which induce CAT activity in spinal cord cultures; one of those is related to LIF, a CAT inducing factor for sympathetic neurons. Preliminary data are presented on the structure of the human AADC and CAT genes. Putative promoter regions have been coupled to reporter genes; transient transfection experiments will allow us to determine the promoter elements responsible for the regulation by neurotrophic factors. We also summarize the distribution of AADC-immunoreactive cells in rat and cat brain, which will be used as a reference for the study of the specificity of expression of AADC promoter in transgenic mice.