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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Mar 5;99(5):3234-9.

Neuronal activity-dependent membrane traffic at the neuromuscular junction.

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Laboratorio de Genética Bioquimica y Grupos Sanguineos, Departamento de Anatomia, Embriologia y Genética Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria de la Universidad de Zaragoza, Calle de Miguel Servet, 177, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain.


During development and also in adulthood, synaptic connections are modulated by neuronal activity. To follow such modifications in vivo, new genetic tools are designed. The nontoxic C-terminal fragment of tetanus toxin (TTC) fused to a reporter gene such as LacZ retains the retrograde and transsynaptic transport abilities of the holotoxin itself. In this work, the hybrid protein is injected intramuscularly to analyze in vivo the mechanisms of intracellular and transneuronal traffics at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Traffic on both sides of the synapse are strongly dependent on presynaptic neural cell activity. In muscle, a directional membrane traffic concentrates beta-galactosidase-TTC hybrid protein into the NMJ postsynaptic side. In neurons, the probe is sorted across the cell to dendrites and subsequently to an interconnected neuron. Such fusion protein, sensitive to presynaptic neuronal activity, would be extremely useful to analyze morphological changes and plasticity at the NMJ.

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