Neuromuscular synapse integrity requires linkage of acetylcholine receptors to postsynaptic intermediate filament networks via rapsyn-plectin 1f complexes

Mihailovska E, Raith M, Valencia RG, Fischer I, Al Banchaabouchi M, Herbst R, Wiche G

Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Mol Biol Cell.

Mutations in the cytolinker protein plectin lead to grossly distorted morphology of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) in patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS)-muscular dystrophy (MS) with myasthenic syndrome (MyS). Here we investigated whether plectin contributes to the structural integrity of NMJs by linking them to the postsynaptic intermediate filament (IF) network. Live imaging of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in cultured myotubes differentiated ex vivo from immortalized plectin-deficient myoblasts revealed them to be highly mobile and unable to coalesce into stable clusters, in contrast to wild-type cells. We found plectin isoform 1f (P1f) to bridge AChRs and IFs via direct interaction with the AChR-scaffolding protein rapsyn in an isoform-specific manner; forced expression of P1f in plectin-deficient cells rescued both compromised AChR clustering and IF network anchoring. In conditional plectin knockout mice with gene disruption in muscle precursor/satellite cells (Pax7-Cre/cKO), uncoupling of AChRs from IFs was shown to lead to loss of postsynaptic membrane infoldings and disorganization of the NMJ microenvironment, including its invasion by microtubules. In their phenotypic behavior, mutant mice closely mimicked EBS-MD-MyS patients, including impaired body balance, severe muscle weakness, and reduced life span. Our study demonstrates that linkage to desmin IF networks via plectin is crucial for formation and maintenance of AChR clusters, postsynaptic NMJ organization, and body locomotion.

BIOSEB Instruments Used:
Grip strength test (BIO-GS3)

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