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Publication Detail
Post-synaptic morphology of mouse neuromuscular junctions is linked to muscle fibre type
Abstract The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the highly specialised peripheral synapse formed between lower motor neuron terminals and muscle fibres. Post-synaptic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs), which are found in high density in the muscle membrane, bind to acetylcholine released into the synaptic cleft of the NMJ, ultimately facilitating the conversion of motor action potentials to muscle contractions. NMJs have been studied for many years as a general model for synapse formation, development and function, and are known to be early sites of pathological changes in many neuromuscular diseases. However, information is limited on the diversity of NMJs in different muscles, whether muscle fibre type impacts NMJ morphology and growth, and the relevance of these parameters to neuropathology. Here, this crucial gap was addressed using a robust and standardised semi-automated workflow called NMJ-morph to quantify features of pre- and post-synaptic NMJ architecture in an unbiased manner. Five wholemount muscles from wild-type mice were dissected and compared at immature (post-natal day, P7) and early adult (P31-32) timepoints. Post-synaptic AChR morphology was found to be more variable between muscles than that of the motor neuron terminal and there were greater differences in the developing NMJ than at the mature synapse. Post-synaptic architecture, but not neuronal morphology or post-natal synapse growth, correlates with fibre type and is largely independent of muscle fibre diameter. Counter to previous observations, this study indicates that smaller NMJs tend to innervate muscles with higher proportions of fast twitch fibres and that NMJ growth rate is not conserved across all muscles. Furthermore, healthy pre- and post-synaptic NMJ morphological parameters were collected for five anatomically and functionally distinct mouse muscles, generating reference data that will be useful for the future assessment of neuromuscular disease models. Graphical Abstract
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Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
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