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Cell Adhesion Molecules at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction

  • Franklin A. Carrero-MartínezEmail author
  • Akira Chiba
Chapter

Abstract

A major goal in neuroscience is the understanding of organizational principles underlying cellular communication and the ensuing molecular integrations that lead to a functional nervous system. The establishment of neuromuscular connections (junctions) is a complex process that requires enumerable cellular and molecular interactions. There are many known and well-characterized molecular events involved in every aspect of neuromuscular junction (NMJ) formation. For instance, at the presynaptic side the motoneuron must differentiate, polarize, undergo dendrogenesis and axogenesis, and extend its processes out to the muscle field. This requires axon guidance, pathfinding, and finally synaptogenesis. At the postsynaptic side, the muscle cell must differentiate and find its correct place in the embryonic body plan to receive motor axons. There are many molecules known to play essential roles during each step in these self-organizational processes. Genetic and biochemical studies have identified molecules that facilitate accurate synaptic target recognitions, as well as those responsible for pre- and postsynaptic specializations. Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) are known to play an essential role in establishing the NMJ. In this chapter, we begin by exploring Drosophila and its NMJ as a model system for glutamatergic synapses in the mammalian central nervous system. We continue by discussing selected CAMs, with known roles in Drosophila NMJ formation. We also explore the role these CAMs play in establishing the basic cytoarchitecture that ultimately results in functional neuromuscular synapses. We then examine the role CAMs play in synapse formation and plasticity. We conclude by providing an integrative model for CAMs function during synapse formation.

Keywords

Drosophila Filopodia Myopodia Cell adhesion molecule (CAM) Capricious (Caps) Connectin (Con) Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) Fasciclin II (FasII) Fasciclin III (FasIII) Integrin N-Cadherin Neuroglian (Nrg) Toll 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Julie Dutil and Grissell Carrero-Martínez for editorial comments and suggestions on the manuscript. We also thank Dr. O’Neil Guthrie for helpful scientific discussions and comments and Dr. Daniel P. Kiehart for access to valuable resources and critical comments. F.A.C.-M. is an ASCB MAC visiting scholar with D.P.K. This award is supported by a MARC grant from the NIH NIGMS to the American Society for Cell Biology Minorities Affairs Committee.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto RicoMayagüez

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