The function of cortactin in the clustering of acetylcholine receptors at the vertebrate neuromuscular junction.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Postsynaptic enrichment of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) at the vertebrate neuromuscular junction (NMJ) depends on the activation of the muscle receptor tyrosine MuSK by neural agrin. Agrin-stimulation of MuSK is known to initiate an intracellular signaling cascade that leads to the clustering of AChRs in an actin polymerization-dependent manner, but the molecular steps which link MuSK activation to AChR aggregation remain incompletely defined. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:In this study we used biochemical, cell biological and molecular assays to investigate a possible role in AChR clustering of cortactin, a protein which is a tyrosine kinase substrate and a regulator of F-actin assembly and which has also been previously localized at AChR clustering sites. We report that cortactin was co-enriched at AChR clusters in situ with its target the Arp2/3 complex, which is a key stimulator of actin polymerization in cells. Cortactin was further preferentially tyrosine phosphorylated at AChR clustering sites and treatment of myotubes with agrin significantly enhanced the tyrosine phosphorylation of cortactin. Importantly, forced expression in myotubes of a tyrosine phosphorylation-defective cortactin mutant (but not wild-type cortactin) suppressed agrin-dependent AChR clustering, as did the reduction of endogenous cortactin levels using RNA interference, and introduction of the mutant cortactin into muscle cells potently inhibited synaptic AChR aggregation in response to innervation. CONCLUSION:Our results suggest a novel function of phosphorylation-dependent cortactin signaling downstream from agrin/MuSK in facilitating AChR clustering at the developing NMJ.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Development of neural networks requires that synapses are formed, eliminated and stabilized. At the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), agrin/MuSK signaling, by triggering downstream pathways, causes clustering and phosphorylation of postsynaptic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Postnatally, AChR aggregates are stabilized by molecular pathways that are poorly characterized. Gain or loss of function of Src-family kinases (SFKs) disassembles AChR clusters at adult NMJs in vivo, whereas AChR aggregates disperse rapidly upon withdrawal of agrin from cultured src-/-;fyn-/- myotubes. This suggests that a balance between protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) and protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) such as those of the Src-family may be essential in stabilizing clusters of AChRs. RESULTS: We have analyzed the role of PTPs in maintenance of AChR aggregates, by adding and then withdrawing agrin from cultured myotubes in the presence of PTP or PTK inhibitors and quantitating remaining AChR clusters. In wild-type myotubes, blocking PTPs with pervanadate caused enhanced disassembly of AChR clusters after agrin withdrawal. When added at the time of agrin withdrawal, SFK inhibitors destabilized AChR aggregates but concomitant addition of pervanadate rescued cluster stability. Likewise in src-/-;fyn-/- myotubes, in which agrin-induced AChR clusters form normally but rapidly disintegrate after agrin withdrawal, pervanadate addition stabilized AChR clusters. The PTP SHP-2, known to be enriched at the NMJ, associated and colocalized with MuSK, and agrin increased this interaction. Specific SHP-2 knockdown by RNA interference reduced the stability of AChR clusters in wild-type myotubes. Similarly, knockdown of SHP-2 in adult mouse soleus muscle by electroporation of RNA interference constructs caused disassembly of pretzel-shaped AChR-rich areas in vivo. Finally, we found that src-/-;fyn-/- myotubes contained elevated levels of SHP-2 protein. CONCLUSION: Our data are the first to show that the fine balance between PTPs and SFKs is a key aspect in stabilization of postsynaptic AChR clusters. One phosphatase that acts in this equilibrium is SHP-2. Thus, PTPs such as SHP-2 stabilize AChR clusters under normal circumstances, but when these PTPs are not balanced by SFKs, they render clusters unstable.
Project description:Motoneuron-derived agrin clusters nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in mammalian muscle cells. We used two-hybrid screens to identify a protein, tumorous imaginal discs (Tid1), that binds to the cytoplasmic domain of muscle-specific kinase (MuSK), a major component of the agrin receptor. Like MuSK, Tid1 colocalizes with AChRs at developing, adult, and denervated motor endplates. Knockdown of Tid1 by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) in skeletal muscle fibers dispersed synaptic AChR clusters and impaired neuromuscular transmission. In cultured myotubes, Tid1 knockdown inhibited AChR clustering, as well as agrin-induced activation of the Rac and Rho small GTPases and tyrosine phosphorylation of the AChR, without affecting MuSK activation. Tid1 knockdown also decreased Dok-7-induced clustering of AChRs. Overexpression of the N-terminal half of Tid1 induced agrin- and MuSK-independent phosphorylation and clustering of AChRs. These results demonstrate that Tid1 is an essential component of the agrin signaling pathway, crucial for synaptic development.
Project description:Efficient synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) requires the topological maturation of the postsynaptic apparatus from an oval acetylcholine receptor (AChR)-rich plaque into a complex pretzel-shaped array of branches. However, compared to NMJ formation very little is known about the mechanisms that regulate NMJ maturation. Recently the process of in vivo transformation from plaque into pretzel has been reproduced in vitro by culturing myotubes aneurally on laminin-coated substrate. It was proposed that the formation of complex AChR clusters is regulated by a MuSK-dependent muscle intrinsic program. To elucidate the structure-function role of MuSK in the aneural maturation of AChR pretzels, we used muscle cell lines expressing MuSK mutant and chimeric proteins. Here we report, that besides its role during agrin-induced AChR clustering, MuSK kinase activity is also necessary for substrate-dependent cluster formation. Constitutive-active MuSK induces larger AChR clusters, a faster cluster maturation on laminin and increases the anchorage of AChRs to the cytoskeleton compared to MuSK wild-type. In addition, we find that the juxtamembrane region of MuSK, which has previously been shown to regulate agrin-induced AChR clustering, is unable to induce complex AChR clusters on laminin substrate. Most interestingly, MuSK kinase activity is not sufficient for laminin-dependent AChR cluster formation since the MuSK ectodomain is also required suggesting a so far undiscovered instructive role for the extracellular domain of MuSK.
Project description:Neuromuscular junction (NMJ) formation requires agrin, a factor released from motoneurons, and MuSK, a transmembrane tyrosine kinase that is activated by agrin. However, how signal is transduced from agrin to MuSK remains unclear. We report that LRP4, a low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-related protein, is expressed specifically in myotubes and binds to neuronal agrin. Its expression enables agrin binding and MuSK signaling in cells that otherwise do not respond to agrin. Suppression of LRP4 expression in muscle cells attenuates agrin binding, agrin-induced MuSK tyrosine phosphorylation, and AChR clustering. LRP4 also forms a complex with MuSK in a manner that is stimulated by agrin. Finally, we showed that LRP4 becomes tyrosine-phosphorylated in agrin-stimulated muscle cells. These observations indicate that LRP4 is a coreceptor of agrin that is necessary for MuSK signaling and AChR clustering and identify a potential target protein whose mutation and/or autoimmunization may cause muscular dystrophies.
Project description:Agrin triggers signaling mechanisms of high temporal and spatial specificity to achieve phosphorylation, clustering, and stabilization of postsynaptic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Agrin transiently activates the kinase MuSK; MuSK activation has largely vanished when AChR clusters appear. Thus, a tyrosine kinase cascade acts downstream from MuSK, as illustrated by the agrin-evoked long-lasting activation of Src family kinases (SFKs) and their requirement for AChR cluster stabilization. We have investigated this cascade and report that pharmacological inhibition of SFKs reduces early but not later agrin-induced phosphorylation of MuSK and AChRs, while inhibition of Abl kinases reduces late phosphorylation. Interestingly, SFK inhibition applied selectively during agrin-induced AChR cluster formation caused rapid cluster dispersal later upon agrin withdrawal. We also report that a single 5-min agrin pulse, followed by extensive washing, triggered long-lasting MuSK and AChR phosphorylation and efficient AChR clustering. Following the pulse, MuSK phosphorylation increased and, beyond a certain level, caused maximal clustering. These data reveal novel temporal aspects of tyrosine kinase action in agrin signaling. First, during AChR cluster formation, SFKs initiate early phosphorylation and an AChR stabilization program that acts much later. Second, a kinase mechanism rapidly activated by agrin acts thereafter autonomously in agrin's absence to further increase MuSK phosphorylation and cluster AChRs.
Project description:Shc family proteins serve as phosphotyrosine adaptor molecules in various receptor-mediated signaling pathways. In mammals, three distinct Shc genes have been described that encode proteins characterized by two phosphotyrosine-interaction modules, an amino-terminal phosphotyrosine binding (PTB) domain and a carboxy-terminal Src homology 2 domain. Here, we report the analysis of an uncharacterized fourth Shc family protein, ShcD/Shc4, that is expressed in adult brain and skeletal muscle. Consistent with this expression pattern, we find that ShcD can associate via its PTB domain with the phosphorylated muscle-specific kinase (MuSK) receptor tyrosine kinase and undergo tyrosine phosphorylation downstream of activated MuSK. Interestingly, additional sites of tyrosine phosphorylation, including a novel Grb2 binding site, are present on ShcD that are not found in other Shc family proteins. Activation of MuSK upon agrin binding at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) induces clustering and tyrosine phosphorylation of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) required for synaptic transmission. ShcD is coexpressed with MuSK in the postsynaptic region of the NMJ, and in cultured myotubes stimulated with agrin, expression of ShcD appears to be important for early tyrosine phosphorylation of the AChR. Thus, we have characterized a new member of the Shc family of docking proteins, which may mediate a specific aspect of signaling downstream of the MuSK receptor.
Project description:The muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK) is part of a receptor complex, activated by neural agrin, that orchestrates the differentiation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). To gain insight into the function of the MuSK complex, we have developed a proteomic approach to identify new MuSK partners. MS analysis of MuSK crosslink products from postsynaptic membranes of the Torpedo electrocytes identified the adaptor protein 14-3-3 gamma. The 14-3-3 gamma protein was found localized at the adult rat NMJ. Cotransfection experiments in COS-7 cells showed that MuSK codistributed with the 14-3-3 gamma protein at the plasma membrane. Furthermore, 14-3-3 gamma was copurified by affinity chromatography with MuSK from transfected COS-7 cells and myotubes. The 14-3-3 gamma protein did not colocalize with agrin-elicited acetylcholine receptor (AChR) aggregates in cultured myotubes, suggesting that it is not involved in AChR clustering. Expression of 14-3-3 gamma specifically repressed the transcription of several synaptic reporter genes in cultured myotubes. This repression was potentiated by MuSK expression. Moreover, the expression of 14-3-3 gamma in muscle fibers in vivo caused both the repression of synaptic genes transcription and morphological perturbations of the NMJ. Our data extend the notion that, apart from its well documented role in AChR clustering, the MuSK complex might also be involved in the regulation of synaptic gene expression at the NMJ.
Project description:A variable proportion of patients with generalized myasthenia gravis (MG) have autoantibodies to muscle specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK). During development agrin, released from the motor nerve, interacts with low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-4 (LRP4), which then binds to MuSK; MuSK interaction with the intracellular protein Dok7 results in clustering of the acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) on the postsynaptic membrane. In mature muscle, MuSK helps maintain the high density of AChRs at the neuromuscular junction. MuSK antibodies are mainly IgG4 subclass, which does not activate complement and can be monovalent, thus it is not clear how the antibodies cause disruption of AChR numbers or function to cause MG. We hypothesised that MuSK antibodies either reduce surface MuSK expression and/or inhibit the interaction with LRP4. We prepared MuSK IgG, monovalent Fab fragments, IgG1-3 and IgG4 fractions from MuSK-MG plasmas. We asked whether the antibodies caused endocytosis of MuSK in MuSK-transfected cells or if they inhibited binding of LRP4 to MuSK in co-immunoprecipitation experiments. In parallel, we investigated their ability to reduce AChR clusters in C2C12 myotubes induced by a) agrin, reflecting neuromuscular development, and b) by Dok7- overexpression, producing AChR clusters that more closely resemble the adult neuromuscular synapse. Total IgG, IgG4 or IgG1-3 MuSK antibodies were not endocytosed unless cross-linked by divalent anti-human IgG. MuSK IgG, Fab fragments and IgG4 inhibited the binding of LRP4 to MuSK and reduced agrin-induced AChR clustering in C2C12 cells. By contrast, IgG1-3 antibodies did not inhibit LRP4-MuSK binding but, surprisingly, did inhibit agrin-induced clustering. Moreover, both IgG4 and IgG1-3 preparations dispersed agrin-independent AChR clusters in Dok7-overexpressing C2C12 cells. Thus interference by IgG4 antibodies of the LRP4-MuSK interaction will be one pathogenic mechanism of MuSK antibodies, but IgG1-3 MuSK antibodies will also contribute to the reduced AChR density and neuromuscular dysfunction in myasthenia patients with MuSK antibodies.
Project description:The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the most extensively studied model of neuronal synaptogenesis. Acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering on the postsynaptic membrane is a cardinal event in the differentiation of NMJs. AChR clustering and postsynaptic differentiation is orchestrated by sophisticated interactions among three proteins: the neuron-secreted proteoglycan agrin, the co-receptor LRP4, and the muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase MuSK. LRP4 and MuSK act as scaffolds for multiple binding partners, resulting in a complex and dynamic network of interacting proteins that is required for AChR clustering. In this review, we discuss the structural basis for NMJ postsynaptic differentiation mediated by the agrin-LRP4-MuSK signaling pathway.
Project description:A hallmark of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the high density of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in the postsynaptic muscle membrane. The postsynaptic apparatus of the NMJ is organized by agrin secreted from motor neurons. The mechanisms that underlie the focal delivery of AChRs to the adult NMJ are not yet understood in detail. We previously showed that microtubule (MT) capture by the plus end-tracking protein CLASP2 regulates AChR density at agrin-induced AChR clusters in cultured myotubes via PI3 kinase acting through GSK3?. Here we show that knockdown of the CLASP2-interaction partner LL5? by RNAi and forced expression of a CLASP2 fragment blocking the CLASP2/LL5? interaction inhibit microtubule capture. The same treatments impair focal vesicle delivery to the clusters. Consistent with these findings, knockdown of LL5? at the NMJ in vivo reduces the density and insertion of AChRs into the postsynaptic membrane. MT capture and focal vesicle delivery to agrin-induced AChR clusters are also inhibited by microtubule- and actin-depolymerizing drugs, invoking both cytoskeletal systems in MT capture and in the fusion of AChR vesicles with the cluster membrane. Combined our data identify a transport system, organized by agrin through PI3 kinase, GSK3?, CLASP2, and LL5?, for precise delivery of AChR vesicles from the subsynaptic nuclei to the overlying synaptic membrane.