Journal Article

Dok-7 promotes slow muscle integrity as well as neuromuscular junction formation in a zebrafish model of congenital myasthenic syndromes

Juliane S. Müller, Catherine D. Jepson, Steven H. Laval, Kate Bushby, Volker Straub and Hanns Lochmüller

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 19, issue 9, pages 1726-1740
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddq049
Dok-7 promotes slow muscle integrity as well as neuromuscular junction formation in a zebrafish model of congenital myasthenic syndromes

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The small signalling adaptor protein Dok-7 has recently been reported as an essential protein of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Mutations resulting in partial loss of Dok-7 activity cause a distinct limb-girdle subtype of the inherited NMJ disorder congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMSs), whereas complete loss of Dok-7 results in a lethal phenotype in both mice and humans. Here we describe the zebrafish orthologue of Dok-7 and study its in vivo function. Dok-7 deficiency leads to motility defects in zebrafish embryos and larvae. The relative importance of Dok-7 at different stages of NMJ development varies; it is crucial for the earliest step, the formation of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters in the middle of the muscle fibre prior to motor neuron contact. At later stages, presence of Dok-7 is not absolutely essential, as focal and non-focal synapses do form when Dok-7 expression is downregulated. These contacts however are smaller than in the wild-type zebrafish, reminiscent of the neuromuscular endplate pathology seen in patients with DOK7 mutations. Intriguingly, we also observed changes in slow muscle fibre arrangement; previously, Dok-7 has not been linked to functions other than postsynaptic AChR clustering. Our results suggest an additional role of Dok-7 in muscle. This role seems to be independent of the muscle-specific tyrosine kinase MuSK, the known binding partner of Dok-7 at the NMJ. Our findings in the zebrafish model contribute to a better understanding of the signalling pathways at the NMJ and the pathomechanisms of DOK7 CMSs.

Journal Article.  7769 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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