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Neuron. 2002 Feb 14;33(4):529-43.

The Drosophila BMP type II receptor Wishful Thinking regulates neuromuscular synapse morphology and function.

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The Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Proper synaptic development is critical for establishing all aspects of neural function including learning, memory, and locomotion. Here, we describe the phenotypic consequences of mutations in the wishful thinking (wit) gene, the Drosophila homolog of the vertebrate BMP type II receptor. Mutations in wit result in pharate lethality that can be rescued by expression of a wit transgene in motor neurons but not in muscles. Mutant larvae exhibit small synapses, severe defects in evoked junctional potentials, a lower frequency of spontaneous vesicle release, and an alteration in the ultrastructure of synaptic active zones. These results reveal a novel role for BMP signaling in regulating Drosophila neuromuscular junction synapse assembly and activity and may indicate that similar pathways could govern vertebrate synapse development.

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