The roles of the dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex at the synapse

Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Feb;41(1):1-21. doi: 10.1007/s12035-009-8089-5. Epub 2009 Nov 9.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene and is characterized by progressive muscle wasting. A number of Duchenne patients also present with mental retardation. The dystrophin protein is part of the highly conserved dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex (DGC) which accumulates at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and at a variety of synapses in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Many years of research into the roles of the DGC in muscle have revealed its structural function in stabilizing the sarcolemma. In addition, the DGC also acts as a scaffold for various signaling pathways. Here, we discuss recent advances in understanding DGC roles in the nervous system, gained from studies in both vertebrate and invertebrate model systems. From these studies, it has become clear that the DGC is important for the maturation of neurotransmitter receptor complexes and for the regulation of neurotransmitter release at the NMJ and central synapses. Furthermore, roles for the DGC have been established in consolidation of long-term spatial and recognition memory. The challenges ahead include the integration of the behavioral and mechanistic studies and the use of this information to identify therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dystrophin / physiology*
  • Dystrophin-Associated Protein Complex / physiology*
  • Dystrophin-Associated Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Dystrophin
  • Dystrophin-Associated Protein Complex
  • Dystrophin-Associated Proteins