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Identity, developmental restriction and reactivity of extralaminar cells capping mammalian neuromuscular junctions

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Harris


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Neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) are normally thought to comprise three major cell types: skeletal muscle fibres, motor neuron terminals and perisynaptic terminal Schwann cells. Here we studied a fourth population of junctional cells in mice and rats, revealed using a novel cytoskeletal antibody (2166). These cells lie outside the synaptic basal lamina but form caps over NMJs during postnatal development. NMJ-capping cells also bound rPH, HM-24, CD34 antibodies and cholera toxin B subunit. Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation indicated activation, proliferation and spread of NMJ-capping cells following denervation in adults, in advance of terminal Schwann cell sprouting. The NMJ-capping cell reaction coincided with expression of tenascin-C but was independent of this molecule because capping cells also dispersed after denervation in tenascin-C-null mutant mice. NMJ-capping cells also dispersed after local paralysis with botulinum toxin and in atrophic muscles of transgenic R6/2 mice. We conclude that NMJ-capping cells (proposed name 'kranocytes') represent a neglected, canonical cellular constituent of neuromuscular junctions where they could play a permissive role in synaptic regeneration.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Court FA, Gillingwater TH, Melrose S, Sherman DL, Greenshields KN, Morton AJ, Harris JB, Willison HJ, Ribchester RR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cell Science

Year: 2008

Volume: 121

Issue: 23

Pages: 3901-3911

ISSN (print): 0021-9533

ISSN (electronic): 1477-9137

Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd


DOI: 10.1242/jcs.031047

PubMed id: 19001504


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