Neuregulin receptors, erbB3 and erbB4, are localized at neuromuscular synapses

EMBO J. 1995 Dec 1;14(23):5842-8.


Neuregulin (NRG) is concentrated at synaptic sites and stimulates expression of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) genes in muscle cells grown in cell culture. These results raise the possibility that NRG is a synaptic signal that activates AChR gene expression in synaptic nuclei. Stimulation of NRG receptors, erbB3 and erbB4 initiates oligomerization between these receptors or between these receptors and other members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor family, resulting in stimulation of their associated tyrosine kinase activities. To determine which erbBs might mediate synapse-specific gene expression, we used antibodies against each erbB to study their expression in rodent skeletal muscle by immunohistochemistry. We show that erbB2, erbB3 and erbB4 are concentrated at synaptic sites in adult skeletal muscle. ErbB3 and erbB4 remain concentrated at synaptic sites following denervation, indicating that erbB3 and erbB4 are expressed in the postsynaptic membrane. In addition, we show that expression of NRG and erbBs, like AChR gene expression, increases at synaptic sites during postnatal development. The localization of erbB3 and erbB4 at synaptic sites is consistent with the idea that a NRG-stimulated signaling pathway is important for synapse-specific gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bungarotoxins / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscle Denervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Neuregulins
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Receptor, ErbB-4
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism


  • Bungarotoxins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neuregulins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Erbb4 protein, rat
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Receptor, ErbB-4