Neuromuscular junction (NMJ) formation requires precise interaction between motoneurons and muscle fibers. LRP4 is a receptor of agrin that is thought to act in cis to stimulate MuSK in muscle fibers for postsynaptic differentiation. Here we dissected the roles of LRP4 in muscle fibers and motoneurons in NMJ formation by cell-specific mutation. Studies of muscle-specific mutants suggest that LRP4 is involved in deciding where to form AChR clusters in muscle fibers, postsynaptic differentiation, and axon terminal development. LRP4 in HEK293 cells increased synapsin or SV2 puncta in contacting axons of cocultured neurons, suggesting a synaptogenic function. Analysis of LRP4 muscle and motoneuron double mutants and mechanistic studies suggest that NMJ formation may also be regulated by LRP4 in motoneurons, which could serve as agrin's receptor in trans to induce AChR clusters. These observations uncovered distinct roles of LRP4 in motoneurons and muscles in NMJ development.
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