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J Neurocytol. 1997 Oct;26(10):637-50.

Association of cortactin with developing neuromuscular specializations.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7090, USA.


During the development of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), motoneurons grow to the muscle cell and the nerve-muscle contact triggers the development of both presynaptic specialization, consisting of clusters of synaptic vesicles (SVs), and postsynaptic specialization, consisting of clusters of synaptic vesicles (SVs), and postsynaptic specialization, consisting of clusters of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Previous studies have shown that the activation of tyrosine kinases and the local assembly of an actin-based cytoskeletal specialization are involved in the development of both types of specializations. To understand the link between tyrosine phosphorylation and the assembly of the cytoskeleton, we examined the localization of cortactin in relationship to synaptic development. Cortactin is a 80/85 kD F-actin binding protein and is a substrate for tyrosine kinases. It contains a proline-rich motif and an SH3 domain and is localized at sites of active F-actin assembly. Using a monoclonal antibody against cortactin, its localization at developing NMJs in culture was observed. To understand the spatial and temporal relationship between cortactin and developing synaptic structures, cultured muscle cells and spinal neurons from Xenopus embryos were treated with beads coated with heparin-binding growth-associated molecule to induce the formation of AChR clusters and SV clusters and the localization of cortactin was followed by immunofluorescence. In untreated muscle cells, cortactin is often co-localized with spontaneously formed AChR clusters. After cells were treated with beads, cortactin became localized at bead-induced AChR clusters at their earliest appearance (1 h after the addition of beads). This association was most reliably detected at the early stage of the clustering process. On the presynaptic side, cortactin localization could be detected as early as 10 min after the bead-neurite contact was established. Cortactin-enriched contacts later showed concentration of F-actin (at 1 h) and clusters of SVs (at 24 h). These data suggest that cortactin mediates the local assembly of the cytoskeletal specialization triggered by the synaptogenic signal on both nerve and muscle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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