Previously we reported that neuronal nitric oxide synthase type-1 (NOS-1) is expressed in skeletal myotubes in vitro. In the present paper we sought to determine whether agrin-induced membrane specializations known to include the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) on cultured myotubes may also contain NOS-1 and related molecules. After treatment with various agrin constructs containing the full C-terminally AChR-clustering domain (fragments N2, N4), but not with fragment C2 (truncated), NOS-1 expressed in the cytosol of mouse C2C12 skeletal myotubes coclustered with AChR, 43K rapsyn, MuSK, and the dystrophin/utrophin glycoprotein-complex (DUGC). Agrin-induced specializations also included coaggregates of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA)-receptor, alpha-sodium (NaCh), or Shaker-type K+ channel (KCh)/PSD-95 complexes, and NOS-1. We conclude that agrin is crucial for recruitment of preassembled multimolecular membrane clusters, including AChR, NMDAR, and ion channels linked to NOS-1. Coassembly of NOS-1 to postsynaptic molecules may reflect site-specific NO-signaling pathways in neuromuscular junction formation and functions.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.