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Neuron. 2002 Oct 24;36(3):403-16.

Unrestricted synaptic growth in spinster-a late endosomal protein implicated in TGF-beta-mediated synaptic growth regulation.

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Department of Biochemistry, 513 Parnassus Avenue, HSE 901, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


In a genetic screen for genes that control synapse development, we have identified spinster (spin), which encodes a multipass transmembrane protein. spin mutant synapses reveal a 200% increase in bouton number and a deficit in presynaptic release. We demonstrate that spin is expressed in both nerve and muscle and is required both pre- and postsynaptically for normal synaptic growth. We have localized Spin to a late endosomal compartment and present evidence for altered endosomal/lysosomal function in spin. We also present evidence that synaptic overgrowth in spin is caused by enhanced/misregulated TGF-beta signaling. TGF-beta receptor mutants show dose-dependent suppression of synaptic overgrowth in spin. Furthermore, mutations in Dad, an inhibitory Smad, cause synapse overgrowth. We present a model for synaptic growth control with implications for the etiology of lysosomal storage and neurodegenerative disease.

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