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J Physiol. 2005 Feb 1;562(Pt 3):673-85. Epub 2004 Nov 18.

Increased ratio of rapsyn to ACh receptor stabilizes postsynaptic receptors at the mouse neuromuscular synapse.

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Department of Physiology (F13), Institute for Biomedical Research, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia.


The metabolic turnover of nicotinic ACh receptors (AChR) at the neuromuscular synapse is regulated over a tenfold range by innervation status, muscle electrical activity and neural agrin, but the downstream effector of such changes has not been defined. The AChR-associated protein rapsyn is essential for forming AChR clusters during development. Here, rapsyn was tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) to begin to probe its influence at the adult synapse. In C2 myotubes, rapsyn-EGFP participated with AChR in agrin-induced AChR cluster formation. When electroporated into the tibialis anterior muscle of young adult mice, rapsyn-EGFP accumulated in discrete subcellular structures, many of which colocalized with Golgi markers, consistent with the idea that rapsyn assembles with AChR in the exocytic pathway. Rapsyn-EGFP also targeted directly to the postsynaptic membrane where it occupied previously vacant rapsyn binding sites, thereby increasing the rapsyn to AChR ratio. At endplates displaying rapsyn-EGFP, the metabolic turnover of AChR (labelled with rhodamine-alpha-bungarotoxin) was slowed. Thus, the metabolic half-life of receptors at the synapse may be modulated by local changes in the subsynaptic ratio of rapsyn to AChR.

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