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Brain Res. 1986 Jul;393(1):99-107.

Effect of low calcium and protease inhibitors on synapse elimination during postnatal development in the rat soleus muscle.


The mechanisms controlling the reorganisation of synaptic inputs to developing skeletal muscle fibres was studied using electrophysiological and histological methods. In the developing rat soleus muscle there is a rapid reduction of polyneuronal innervation between 9 and 12 days. Reducing the local concentration of calcium by applying chelating agents such as EGTA or BAPTA in vivo to 9-day-old rat soleus muscles over a period of 3 days slowed the rate of elimination of polyneuronal innervation. It was established that the reduction of calcium induced by EGTA or BAPTA was not sufficient to produce a detectable reduction in neuromuscular activity. The possibility that a calcium-dependent enzyme such as CANP may play a role in synapse reorganisation was therefore tested. Local application of inhibitors of calcium-activated neutral protease (CANP), leupeptin or E-64, to 9-day-old rat soleus muscles over 3 days had similar effects to those of EGTA or BAPTA, i.e. the elimination of polyneuronal innervation that usually takes place was much slower. Since the inhibition of thiol proteases had similar effects on synapse elimination as a reduction of calcium concentration, it is concluded that CANP is important in the reorganisation of the developing neuromuscular junction.

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