Calcium Influx and Release Cooperatively Regulate AChR Patterning and Motor Axon Outgrowth during Neuromuscular Junction Formation
Summary Formation of synapses between motor neurons and muscles is initiated by clustering of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in the center of muscle fibers prior to nerve arrival. This AChR patterning is considered to be critically dependent on calcium influx through L-type channels (CaV1.1). Using a genetic approach in mice, we demonstrate here that either the L-type calcium currents (LTCCs) or sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) calcium release is necessary and sufficient to regulate AChR clustering at the onset of neuromuscular junction (NMJ) development. The combined lack of both calcium signals results in loss of AChR patterning and excessive nerve branching. In the absence of SR calcium release, the severity of synapse formation defects inversely correlates with the magnitude of LTCCs. These findings highlight the importance of activity-dependent calcium signaling in early neuromuscular junction formation and indicate that both LTCC and SR calcium release individually support proper innervation of muscle by regulating AChR patterning and motor axon outgrowth.