The relationship of neuromuscular synapse elimination to synaptic degeneration and pathology: insights from WldS and other mutant mice

Thomas H Gillingwater, Richard R Ribchester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neuromuscular synapse elimination, Wallerian degeneration and peripheral neuropathies are not normally considered as related phenomena. However, recent studies of mutant and transgenic mice, particularly the Wld(S) mutant-in which orthograde degeneration is delayed following axotomy-suggest that re-evaluation of possible links between natural, traumatic and pathogenic regression of synapses may be warranted. During developmental synapse elimination from polyneuronally innervated junctions, some motor nerve terminals progressively and asynchronously vacate motor endplates. A form of asynchronous synapse withdrawal, strongly resembling synapse elimination, also occurs from mononeuronally-innervated motor endplates following axotomy in young adult Wld(S) mutant mice. A similar pattern is observed in skeletal muscles of several neuropathic mutants, including mouse models of dying-back neuropathies, motor neuron disease and-remarkably-models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases. Taken together with recent analysis of synaptic remodelling at neuromuscular junctions in Drosophila, a strong candidate for a common regulatory mechanism in these diverse conditions is one based on protein ubiquitination/deubiquitination. Axotomised neuromuscular junctions in Wld(S) mutant mice offer favourable experimental opportunities for examining developmental mechanisms of synaptic regression, that may also benefit our understanding of how degeneration in the synaptic compartment of a neuron is initiated, and its role in progressive, whole-cell neuronal degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-81
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of neurocytology
Volume32
Issue number5-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2004

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Neuromuscular Junction
  • Wallerian Degeneration

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