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EMBO J. 2000 Jan 4;19(1):67-77.

The juxtamembrane region of MuSK has a critical role in agrin-mediated signaling.

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Molecular Neurobiology Program, Skirball Institute, NYU Medical School, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Erratum in

  • EMBO J 2000 Mar 1;19(5):1167.


MuSK is a receptor tyrosine kinase expressed selectively in skeletal muscle and localized to neuromuscular synapses. Agrin activates MuSK and stimulates phosphorylation and clustering of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) at synaptic sites. We expressed wild-type or mutant MuSK in MuSK(-/-) myotubes and identified tyrosine residues in the MuSK cytoplasmic domain that are necessary for agrin-stimulated phosphorylation and clustering of AChRs. The activation loop tyrosines and the single juxtamembrane tyrosine were found to be essential for agrin-stimulated phosphorylation and clustering of AChRs. Further, we show that the juxtamembrane tyrosine, contained within an NPXY motif, is phosphorylated in vivo by agrin stimulation. We constructed chimeras containing extracellular and transmembrane domains from MuSK and cytoplasmic sequences from TrkA and found that inclusion of 13 amino acids from the MuSK juxtamembrane region, including the NPXY motif, is sufficient to convert a phosphorylated but inactive MuSK-TrkA chimera into a phosphorylated active chimera. These data suggest that phosphorylation of the MuSK NPXY site leads to recruitment of a phosphotyrosine-binding domain-containing protein that functions to stimulate phosphorylation and clustering of AChRs.

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