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Neuroscience. 2007 Mar 2;145(1):56-65. Epub 2007 Jan 10.

The actin binding domain of ACF7 binds directly to the tetratricopeptide repeat domains of rapsyn.

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1
Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 655 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

Abstract

Formation of the neuromuscular junction requires the release of agrin from the presynaptic terminal of motor neurons. Clustering of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) on the postsynaptic sarcolemma is initiated by agrin-dependent activation of the muscle-specific kinase. While the postsynaptic scaffolding protein rapsyn is vital for high density AChR aggregation, little is known about the mechanism through which AChRs are immobilized on the postsynaptic membrane. Ultrastructural and immunohistochemical studies of rat skeletal muscle have suggested that AChRs are anchored to a membrane-associated cytoskeleton that contains spectrin-like proteins and is thus similar to that of the human erythrocyte [Bloch RJ, Bezakova G, Ursitti JA, Zhou D, Pumplin DW (1997) A membrane skeleton that clusters nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in muscle. Soc Gen Physiol Ser 52:177-195]. We are studying a protein of the spectrin superfamily, ACF7 (also known as MACF), as a postsynaptic cytoskeletal component of the neuromuscular junction. ACF7 has multiple cytoskeleton-binding domains, including an N-terminal actin-binding domain that, we postulate, may interact with rapsyn, the scaffolding protein that binds directly to AChRs. To test this hypothesis, we co-expressed fragments of these molecules in cultured fibroblasts and assessed their co-distribution and interaction using confocal microscopy and co-immunoprecipitation. We demonstrate that the actin-binding domain of ACF7 specifically interacts with the tetratricopeptide repeat domains of rapsyn. Furthermore, we show using surface plasmon resonance and blot overlay that the actin-binding domain of ACF7 binds directly to rapsyn. These results suggest that, in mammalian skeletal muscle, AChRs are immobilized in the membrane through rapsyn-mediated anchoring to an ACF7-containing network that in turn is linked to the actin cytoskeleton.

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