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Keywords:

  • acetylcholine receptor;
  • MuSK;
  • low-density lipoprotein-related receptor;
  • synaptogenesis;
  • skeletal muscle

Abstract

Neuromuscular synapse formation requires an exchange of signals between motor neurons and muscle. Agrin, supplied by motor neurons, binds to Lrp4 in muscle, stimulating phosphorylation of MuSK and recruitment of a signaling complex essential for synapse-specific transcription and anchoring of key proteins in the postsynaptic membrane. Lrp4, like the LDLR and other Lrp-family members, contains an intracellular region with motifs that can regulate receptor trafficking, as well as assembly of an intracellular signaling complex. Here, we show that the intracellular region of Lrp4 is dispensable for Agrin to stimulate MuSK phosphorylation and clustering of acetylcholine receptors in cultured myotubes. Moreover, muscle-selective expression of a Lrp4-CD4 chimera, composed of the extracellular and transmembrane regions of Lrp4 and the intracellular region of CD4, rescues neuromuscular synapse formation and the neonatal lethality of lrp4 mutant mice, demonstrating that Lrp4, lacking the Lrp4 intracellular region, is sufficient for presynaptic and postsynaptic differentiation. Developmental Dynamics 240:2626–2633, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.