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PLoS One January 1, 2011; 6 (10): e26805.

Mechanism of acetylcholine receptor cluster formation induced by DC electric field.

The formation of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) cluster is a key event during the development of the neuromuscular junction. It is induced through the activation of muscle-specific kinase (MuSK) by the heparan-sulfate proteoglycan agrin released from the motor axon. On the other hand, DC electric field, a non-neuronal stimulus, is also highly effective in causing AChRs to cluster along the cathode-facing edge of muscle cells.To understand its molecular mechanism, quantum dots (QDs) were used to follow the movement of AChRs as they became clustered under the influence of electric field. From analyses of trajectories of AChR movement in the membrane, it was concluded that diffuse receptors underwent Brownian motion until they were immobilized at sites of cluster formation. This supports the diffusion-mediated trapping model in explaining AChR clustering under the influence of this stimulus. Disrupting F-actin cytoskeleton assembly and interfering with rapsyn-AChR interaction suppressed this phenomenon, suggesting that these are integral components of the trapping mechanism induced by the electric field. Consistent with the idea that signaling pathways are activated by this stimulus, the localization of tyrosine-phosphorylated forms of AChR β-subunit and Src was observed at cathodal AChR clusters. Furthermore, disrupting MuSK activity through the expression of a kinase-dead form of this enzyme abolished electric field-induced AChR clustering.These results suggest that DC electric field as a physical stimulus elicits molecular reactions in muscle cells in the form of cathodal MuSK activation in a ligand-free manner to trigger a signaling pathway that leads to cytoskeletal assembly and AChR clustering.

PubMed ID: 22046365
PMC ID: PMC3201969
Article link: PLoS One

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: actl6a musk ntrk2 rapsn

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Alivisatos, Quantum dots as cellular probes. 2005, Pubmed