Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Clue To Muscular Dystrophy Uncovered: Mediator In Communication Between Neurons And Muscle Cells Found

Date:
October 27, 2008
Source:
Medical College of Georgia
Summary:
A missing piece of the puzzle of how neurons and muscle cells establish lifelong communication has been found by researchers who suspect this piece may be mutated and/or attacked in muscular dystrophy.

Much as a friend gets two other friends together, MCG researchers have found that agrin starts talking with LRP4, a protein also on the muscle cell surface, then recruits MuSK to join the conversation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Medical College of Georgia

A missing piece of the puzzle of how neurons and muscle cells establish lifelong communication has been found by researchers who suspect this piece may be mutated and/or attacked in muscular dystrophy.

Agrin is a protein that motor neurons release to direct construction of the nerve-muscle contact or synapse. MuSK on the muscle cell surface initiates critical internal cell talk so synapses can form and receptors that enable specific commands will cluster at just the right spot.

The conundrum was agrin and MuSK don't directly communicate, explains Dr. Lin Mei, chief of developmental neurobiology at the Medical College of Georgia and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Neuroscience.

Much as a friend gets two other friends together, MCG researchers have found that agrin starts talking with LRP4, a protein also on the muscle cell surface, then recruits MuSK to join the conversation. LRP4 and MuSK become major components of the receptor needed for the muscle cell to receive the message agrin is sending, says Dr. Bin Zhang, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Mei's lab and first author on the paper published in the Oct. 23 issue of the journal Neuron.

"We know agrin is important and we know MuSK is important. The puzzle or greatest gap in this field for a long time is there was no evidence these two would shake hands but they must have each other," says Dr. Mei, corresponding author. "This paper shows that this protein, LRP4, forms a nice bridge between the two and solves this long puzzle."

The agrin-MuSK signaling pathway has been implicated in muscular dystrophy, a group of genetic diseases that lead to loss of muscle control because of problems with neurons, muscle cells and/or their communication. Some reports have implicated a mutant MuSK as a cause of muscular dystrophy and autoantibodies (antibodies the body makes against itself) to MuSK have been found in the blood of some patients.

Now that researchers know LRP4's critical role, they will look in patient samples where they suspect they also will find mutant forms and autoantibodies to it as well, Dr. Zhang says. They'll also look to see if LRP4 has a role in later development and maintenance of the neuromuscular junction.

In research published in the Oct. 9 issue of Neuron, the same research team used the neuromuscular junction to identify Hsp90β as a stabilizing protein that helps receptors on muscle cells get and stay where needed to catch a neuron's signal. This process showed the need for teamwork as well since rapsyn, a protein responsible for anchoring the receptor, is oddly unstable. They showed Hsp90β gives rapsyn needed stability.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical College of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Medical College of Georgia. "New Clue To Muscular Dystrophy Uncovered: Mediator In Communication Between Neurons And Muscle Cells Found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081022135807.htm>.
Medical College of Georgia. (2008, October 27). New Clue To Muscular Dystrophy Uncovered: Mediator In Communication Between Neurons And Muscle Cells Found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081022135807.htm
Medical College of Georgia. "New Clue To Muscular Dystrophy Uncovered: Mediator In Communication Between Neurons And Muscle Cells Found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081022135807.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins