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Shi, W., Chen, Y., Gan, G., Wang, D., Ren, J., Wang, Q., Xu, Z., Xie, W., Zhang, Y.Q. (2013). Brain tumor regulates neuromuscular synapse growth and endocytosis in Drosophila by suppressing mad expression.  J. Neurosci. 33(30): 12352--12363.
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Research paper

The precise regulation of synaptic growth is critical for the proper formation and plasticity of functional neural circuits. Identification and characterization of factors that regulate synaptic growth and function have been under intensive investigation. Here we report that brain tumor (brat), which was identified as a translational repressor in multiple biological processes, plays a crucial role at Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) synapses. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that brat mutants exhibited synaptic overgrowth characterized by excess satellite boutons at NMJ terminals, whereas electron microscopy revealed increased synaptic vesicle size but reduced density at active zones compared with wild-types. Spontaneous miniature excitatory junctional potential amplitudes were larger and evoked quantal content was lower at brat mutant NMJs. In agreement with the morphological and physiological phenotypes, loss of Brat resulted in reduced FM1-43 uptake at the NMJ terminals, indicating that brat regulates synaptic endocytosis. Genetic analysis revealed that the actions of Brat at synapses are mediated through mothers against decapentaplegic (Mad), the signal transduction effector of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway. Furthermore, biochemical analyses showed upregulated levels of Mad protein but normal mRNA levels in the larval brains of brat mutants, suggesting that Brat suppresses Mad translation. Consistently, knockdown of brat by RNA interference in Drosophila S2 cells also increased Mad protein level. These results together reveal an important and previously unidentified role for Brat in synaptic development and endocytosis mediated by suppression of BMP signaling.

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PubMed Central ID
PMC6618673 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    J. Neurosci.
    Journal of Neuroscience
    Publication Year
    0270-6474 1529-2401
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