The p75NTR neurotrophin receptor is required to organize the mature neuromuscular synapse by regulating synaptic vesicle availability

The coordinated movement of organisms relies on efficient nerve-muscle communication at the neuromuscular junction. After peripheral nerve injury or neurodegeneration, motor neurons and Schwann cells increase the expression of the p75NTR pan-neurotrophin receptor. Even though p75NTR targeting has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy to delay peripheral neuronal damage progression, the effects of long-term p75NTR inhibition at the mature neuromuscular junction have not been elucidated. We performed quantitative neuroanathomical analyses of the neuromuscular junction in p75NTR null mice by laser confocal and electron microscopy, which were complemented with electromyography, locomotor tests, and pharmacological intervention studies. Mature neuromuscular synapses of p75NTR null mice show impaired postsynaptic organization and ultrastructural complexity, which correlate with altered synaptic function at the levels of nerve activity-induced muscle responses, muscle fiber structure, force production, and locomotor performance. Our results on primary myotubes and denervated muscles indicate that muscle-derived p75NTR does not play a major role on postsynaptic organization. In turn, motor axon terminals of p75NTR null mice display a strong reduction in the number of synaptic vesicles and active zones. According to the observed pre and postsynaptic defects, pharmacological acetylcholinesterase inhibition rescued nerve-dependent muscle response and force production in p75NTR null mice. Our findings revealing that p75NTR is required to organize mature neuromuscular junctions contribute to a comprehensive view of the possible effects caused by therapeutic attempts to target p75NTR.
Neuromuscular junction, p75NTR, Neurotrophin, Motor neuron, Synaptic vesicles