Journal article

Acetylcholine Receptor Organization in Membrane Domains in Muscle Cells: EVIDENCE FOR RAPSYN-INDEPENDENT AND RAPSYN-DEPENDENT MECHANISMS

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in muscle fibers are densely packed in the postsynaptic region at the neuromuscular junction. Rapsyn plays a central role in directing and clustering nAChR during cellular differentiation and neuromuscular junction formation; however, it has not been demonstrated whether rapsyn is the only cause of receptor immobilization. Here, we used single-molecule tracking methods to investigate nAChR mobility in plasma membranes of myoblast cells during their differentiation to myotubes in the presence and absence of rapsyn. We found that in myoblasts the majority of nAChR were immobile and that similar to 20% of the receptors showed restricted diffusion in small domains of similar to 50 nm. In myoblasts devoid of rapsyn, the fraction of mobile nAChR was considerably increased, accompanied by a 3-fold decrease in the immobile population of nAChR with respect to rapsyn-expressing cells. Half of the mobile receptors were confined to domains of similar to 120 nm. Measurements performed in heterologously transfected HEK cells confirmed the direct immobilization of nAChR by rapsyn. However, irrespective of the presence of rapsyn, about one-third of nAChR were confined in 300-nm domains. Our results show (i) that rapsyn efficiently immobilizes nAChR independently of other postsynaptic scaffold components; (ii) nAChR is constrained in confined membrane domains independently of rapsyn; and (iii) in the presence of rapsyn, the size of these domains is strongly reduced.


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