Agrin, a motoneuron-derived factor, and the muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK) are essential for the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering at the postjunctional membrane. However, the underlying signaling mechanisms remain poorly defined. We show that agrin stimulates a dynamic translocation of the AChR into lipid rafts-cholesterol and sphingolipid-rich microdomains in the plasma membrane. This follows MuSK partition into lipid rafts and requires its activation. Disruption of lipid rafts inhibits MuSK activation and downstream signaling and AChR clustering in response to agrin. Rapsyn, an intracellular protein necessary for AChR clustering, is located constitutively in lipid rafts, but its interaction with the AChR is inhibited when lipid rafts are perturbed. These results reveal that lipid rafts may regulate AChR clustering by facilitating the agrin/MuSK signaling and the interaction between the receptor and rapsyn, both necessary for AChR clustering and maintenance. These results provide insight into mechanisms of AChR cluster formation.
- Lipid rafts
- Neuromuscular junction
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas