CELL BIOLOGY: Pretzel Factory

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Science  09 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5668, pp. 173c
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5668.173c

The mammalian neuromuscular junction contains a postsynaptic arborization of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) that map precisely onto the motor nerve terminal, forming a pretzel-shaped array. Kummer et al. investigated how this complex architecture is generated by monitoring in vitro the elaboration of neuron-free myotubes on a laminin substratum. The branched structures arose as newly synthesized AChRs added to the circumference of AChR-rich plaques and as perforations in the plaques coalesced to form AChR-poor regions—a sequence of events mirroring the development of neuromuscular junctions in vivo. Thus, even though the neuronal and muscle-derived structures appear to be built in parallel, the muscle can make pretzels on its own. — SMH

J. Cell Biol. 164, 1077 (2004).

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