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Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Jan;13(2):221-9.

Differential targeting of components of the dystrophin complex to the postsynaptic membrane.

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Biologie Cellulaire des Membranes, Institut Jacques Monod, UMR 7592, CNRS/Universités Paris 6, Paris 7, 2 Place Jussieu, 75251 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Accumulating evidence points to the participation of dystroglycan in the clustering of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction [Côté et al. (1999) Nature Genet., 3, 338--342]. Dystroglycan is part of a multimolecular complex, either associated with dystrophin (the dystrophin-associated protein complex) at the sarcolemma or with utrophin (the utrophin-associated protein complex) at the neuromuscular junction. Understanding the assembly of this complex at the developing synapse led us to investigate, in Torpedo electrocyte, the intracellular routing and the targeting of several of its components, including dystroglycan, syntrophin, dystrophin and dystrobrevin. We previously demonstrated that acetylcholine receptors and rapsyn, the 43-kDa receptor-associated protein at the synapse, are cotargeted to the postsynaptic membrane via the exocytic pathway [Marchand et al. (2000) J. Neurosci., 20, 521--528]. Using cell fractionation, immunopurification and immuno-electron microscope techniques, we show that beta-dystroglycan, an integral glycoprotein that constitutes the core of the dystrophin-associated protein complex localized at the innervated membrane, is transported together with acetylcholine receptor and rapsyn in post-Golgi vesicles en route to the postsynaptic membrane. Syntrophin, a peripheral cytoplasmic protein of the complex, associates initially with these exocytic vesicles. Conversely, dystrophin and dystrobrevin were absent from these post-Golgi vesicles and associate directly with the postsynaptic membrane. This study provides the first evidence for a separate targeting of the various components of the dystrophin-associated protein complex and a step-by-step assembly at the postsynaptic membrane.

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