Neurons regulate the number of surface receptors by balancing the transport to and from the plasma membrane to adjust their signaling properties. The protein muskelin was recently identified as a key factor guiding the transport of α1 subunit-containing GABAA receptors. Here we present the crystal structure of muskelin, comprising its N-terminal discoidin domain and Lis1-homology (LisH) motif. The molecule crystallized as a dimer with the LisH motif exclusively mediating oligomerization. Our subsequent biochemical analyses confirmed that the LisH motif acts as a dimerization element in muskelin. Together with an intermolecular head-to-tail interaction, the LisH-dependent dimerization is required to assemble a muskelin tetramer. Intriguingly, our cellular studies revealed that the loss of this dimerization results in a complete redistribution of muskelin from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and impairs muskelin's function in GABAA receptor transport. These studies demonstrate that the LisH-dependent dimerization is a crucial factor for muskelin function.
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