Basement membranes (BMs) are specialized layers of extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly composed of Laminin, type IV Collagen, Perlecan and Nidogen/entactin (NDG). Recent in vivo studies challenged the initially proposed role of NDG as a major ECM linker molecule by revealing dispensability for viability and BM formation. Here, we report the characterization of the single Ndg gene in Drosophila. Embryonic Ndg expression was primarily observed in mesodermal tissues and the chordotonal organs, whereas NDG protein localized to all BMs. Although loss of Laminin strongly affected BM localization of NDG, Ndg-null mutants exhibited no overt changes in the distribution of BM components. Although Drosophila Ndg mutants were viable, loss of NDG led to ultrastructural BM defects that compromised barrier function and stability in vivo Moreover, loss of NDG impaired larval crawling behavior and reduced responses to vibrational stimuli. Further morphological analysis revealed accompanying defects in the larval peripheral nervous system, especially in the chordotonal organs and the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Taken together, our analysis suggests that NDG is not essential for BM assembly but mediates BM stability and ECM-dependent neural plasticity during Drosophila development.
Keywords: Axon guidance; Collagen; Dorsal median cells; ECM; Extracellular matrix; Laminin; Morphogenesis; Muscle; NMJ; Perlecan.
© 2019. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.