[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wnt proteins are secreted proteins involved in a number of developmental processes including neural development and synaptogenesis. We sought to determine the role of the Drosophila Wnt7b ortholog, Wnt2, using the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Mutations in wnt2 produce an increase in the number of presynaptic branches and a reduction in immunolabeling of the active zone proteins, Bruchpilot and synaptobrevin, at the NMJ. There was no change, however, in immunolabeling for the presynaptic proteins cysteine-string protein (CSP) and synaptotagmin, nor the postsynaptic proteins GluRIIA and DLG at the NMJ. Consistent with the presynaptic defects, wnt2 mutants exhibit approximately a 50% reduction in evoked excitatory junctional currents. Rescue, RNAi, and tissue-specific qRT-PCR experiments indicate that Wnt2 is expressed by the postsynaptic cell where it may serve as a retrograde signal that regulates presynaptic morphology and the localization of presynaptic proteins.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(9):e12778. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural function is dependent upon the proper formation and development of synapses. We show here that Wnt5 regulates the growth of the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) by signaling through the Derailed receptor. Mutations in both wnt5 and drl result in a significant reduction in the number of synaptic boutons. Cell-type specific rescue experiments show that wnt5 functions in the presynaptic motor neuron while drl likely functions in the postsynaptic muscle cell. Epistatic analyses indicate that drl acts downstream of wnt5 to promote synaptic growth. Structure-function analyses of the Drl protein indicate that normal synaptic growth requires the extracellular Wnt inhibitory factor domain and the intracellular domain, which includes an atypical kinase. Our findings reveal a novel signaling mechanism that regulates morphology of the Drosophila NMJ.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AMPA receptors are responsible for fast excitatory transmission in the CNS and the trafficking of these receptors has been implicated in LTP and learning and memory. These receptors reside in the postsynaptic density, a network of proteins that links the receptors to downstream signaling components and to the neuronal cytoskeleton. To determine whether the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, possesses a similar array of proteins as are found at the mammalian PSD, we identified Drosophila homologs of 95.8% of mammalian PSD proteins. We investigated, for the first time, the role of one of these PSD proteins, Pod1 in GluR cluster formation at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction and found that mutations in pod1 resulted in a specific loss of A-type receptors at the synapse.
Bioinformatics and biology insights 01/2008; 2:369-81.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A molecular understanding of synaptogenesis is a critical step toward the goal of understanding how brains "wire themselves up," and then "rewire" during development and experience. Recent genomic and molecular advances have made it possible to study synaptogenesis on a genomic scale. Here, we describe the results of a screen for genes involved in formation and development of the glutamatergic Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ). We screened 2185 P-element transposon mutants representing insertions in approximately 16% of the entire Drosophila genome. We first identified recessive lethal mutants, based on the hypothesis that mutations causing severe disruptions in synaptogenesis are likely to be lethal. Two hundred twenty (10%) of all insertions were homozygous lethal. Two hundred five (93%) of these lethal mutants developed at least through late embryogenesis and formed neuromusculature. We examined embryonic/larval NMJs in 202 of these homozygous mutants using immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy. We identified and classified 88 mutants with altered NMJ morphology. Insertion loci in these mutants encode several different types of proteins, including ATP- and GTPases, cytoskeletal regulators, cell adhesion molecules, kinases, phosphatases, RNA regulators, regulators of protein formation, transcription factors, and transporters. Thirteen percent of insertions are in genes that encode proteins of novel or unknown function. Complementation tests and RT-PCR assays suggest that approximately 51% of the insertion lines carry background mutations. Our results reveal that synaptogenesis requires the coordinated action of many different types of proteins--perhaps as much as 44% of the entire genome--and that transposon mutageneses carry important caveats that must be respected when interpreting results generated using this method.
Journal of Neurobiology 04/2006; 66(4):332-47. · 3.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A Drosophila forward genetic screen for mutants with defective synaptic development identified bad reception (brec). Homozygous brec mutants are embryonic lethal, paralyzed, and show no detectable synaptic transmission at the glutamatergic neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Genetic mapping, complementation tests, and genomic sequencing show that brec mutations disrupt a previously uncharacterized ionotropic glutamate receptor subunit, named here "GluRIID." GluRIID is expressed in the postsynaptic domain of the NMJ, as well as widely throughout the synaptic neuropil of the CNS. In the NMJ of null brec mutants, all known glutamate receptor subunits are undetectable by immunocytochemistry, and all functional glutamate receptors are eliminated. Thus, we conclude that GluRIID is essential for the assembly and/or stabilization of glutamate receptors in the NMJ. In null brec mutant embryos, the frequency of periodic excitatory currents in motor neurons is significantly reduced, demonstrating that CNS motor pattern activity is regulated by GluRIID. Although synaptic development and molecular differentiation appear otherwise unperturbed in null mutants, viable hypomorphic brec mutants display dramatically undergrown NMJs by the end of larval development, suggesting that GluRIID-dependent central pattern activity regulates peripheral synaptic growth. These studies reveal GluRIID as a newly identified glutamate receptor subunit that is essential for glutamate receptor assembly/stabilization in the peripheral NMJ and required for properly patterned motor output in the CNS.
Journal of Neuroscience 04/2005; 25(12):3199-208. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sec8 is highly expressed in mammalian nervous systems and has been proposed to play a role in several aspects of neural development and function, including neurite outgrowth, calcium-dependent neurotransmitter secretion, trafficking of ionotropic glutamate receptors and regulation of neuronal microtubule assembly. However, these models have never been tested in vivo. Nervous system development and function have not been described after mutation of sec8 in any organism.
We identified lethal sec8 mutants in an unbiased forward genetic screen for mutations causing defects in development of glutamatergic Drosophila neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). The Drosophila NMJ is genetically malleable and accessible throughout development to electrophysiology and immunocytochemistry, making it ideal for examination of the sec8 mutant synaptic phenotype. We developed antibodies to Drosophila Sec8 and showed that Sec8 is abundant at the NMJ. In our sec8 null mutants, in which the sec8 gene is specifically deleted, Sec8 immunoreactivity at the NMJ is eliminated but immunoblots reveal substantial maternal contribution in the rest of the animal. Contrary to the hypothesis that Sec8 is required for neurite outgrowth or synaptic terminal growth, immunocytochemical examination revealed that sec8 mutant NMJs developed more branches and presynaptic terminals during larval development, compared to controls. Synaptic electrophysiology showed no evidence that Sec8 is required for basal neurotransmission, though glutamate receptor trafficking was mildly disrupted in sec8 mutants. The most dramatic NMJ phenotype in sec8 mutants was an increase in synaptic microtubule density, which was approximately doubled compared to controls.
Sec8 is abundant in the Drosophila NMJ. Sec8 is required in vivo for regulation of synaptic microtubule formation, and (probably secondarily) regulation of synaptic growth and glutamate receptor trafficking. We did not find any evidence that Sec8 is required for basal neurotransmission.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A clear picture of the mechanisms controlling glutamate receptor expression, localization, and stability remains elusive, possibly due to an incomplete understanding of the proteins involved. We screened transposon mutants generated by the ongoing Drosophila Gene Disruption Project in an effort to identify the different types of genes required for glutamate receptor cluster development.
To enrich for non-silent insertions with severe disruptions in glutamate receptor clustering, we identified and focused on homozygous lethal mutants in a collection of 2185 BG and KG transposon mutants generated by the BDGP Gene Disruption Project. 202 lethal mutant lines were individually dissected to expose glutamatergic neuromuscular junctions, stained using antibodies that recognize neuronal membrane and the glutamate receptor subunit GluRIIA, and viewed using laser-scanning confocal microscopy. We identified 57 mutants with qualitative differences in GluRIIA expression and/or localization. 84% of mutants showed loss of receptors and/or clusters; 16% of mutants showed an increase in receptors. Insertion loci encode a variety of protein types, including cytoskeleton proteins and regulators, kinases, phosphatases, ubiquitin ligases, mucins, cell adhesion proteins, transporters, proteins controlling gene expression and protein translation, and proteins of unknown/novel function. Expression pattern analyses and complementation tests, however, suggest that any single mutant - even if a mutant gene is uniquely tagged - must be interpreted with caution until the mutation is validated genetically and phenotypically.
Our study identified 57 transposon mutants with qualitative differences in glutamate receptor expression and localization. Despite transposon tagging of every insertion locus, extensive validation is needed before one can have confidence in the role of any individual gene. Alternatively, one can focus on the types of genes identified, rather than the identities of individual genes. This genomic approach, which circumvents many technical caveats in favor of a wider perspective, suggests that glutamate receptor cluster formation involves many cellular processes, including: 1) cell adhesion and signaling, 2) extensive and relatively specific regulation of gene expression and RNA, 3) the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, and 4) many novel/unexplored processes, such as those involving mucin/polycystin-like proteins and proteins of unknown function.