During aging, skeletal muscles become atrophic and lose contractile force. Aging can also impact the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), a synapse that transmits signals from motoneurons to muscle fibers to control muscle contraction. However, in contrast to muscle aging that has been studied extensively, less is known about the molecular mechanisms of NMJ aging although its structure and function are impaired in aged animals. To this end, we performed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis to identify genes whose expression in synapse-rich region is altered. Gene ontology (GO) analysis highlighted genes relating to nuclear structure or function. In particular, lamin A/C, an intermediate filament protein critical for the interphase nuclear architecture, was reduced. Remarkably, mutation of lamin A/C in muscles or motoneurons had no effect on NMJ formation in either sex of mice, but the muscle mutation caused progressive denervation, acetylcholine receptor (AChR) cluster fragmentation, and neuromuscular dysfunction. Interestingly, rapsyn, a protein critical to AChR clustering, was reduced in mutant muscle cells; and expressing rapsyn in muscles attenuated NMJ deficits of HSA-Lmna-/- mice. These results reveal a role of lamin A/C in NMJ maintenance and suggest that nuclear dysfunction or deficiency may contribute to NMJ deficits in aged muscles.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT This study provides evidence that lamin A/C, a scaffolding component of the nuclear envelope, is critical to maintaining the NMJ in mice. Its muscle-specific mutation led to progressive NMJ degeneration in vivo We showed that the mutation reduced the level of rapsyn, a protein necessary for acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering; and expression of rapsyn in muscles attenuated NMJ deficits of HSA-Lmna-/- mice. These results reveal a role of lamin A/C in NMJ maintenance and suggest that nuclear dysfunction or deficiency may contribute to NMJ deficits in aged muscles.
Keywords: aging; lamin A/C; neuromuscular junction; rapsyn.
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