Neuronal MT1-MMP mediates ECM clearance and Lrp4 cleavage for agrin deposition and signaling in presynaptic development

Marilyn Janice Oentaryo, Anna Chung-Kwan Tse, Chi Wai Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Agrin is a crucial factor that induces postsynaptic differentiation at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), but how secreted agrin is locally deposited in the context of extracellular matrix (ECM) environment and its function in presynaptic differentiation remain largely unclear. Here, we report that the proteolytic activity of neuronal membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP; also known as MMP14) facilitates agrin deposition and signaling during presynaptic development at NMJs. Firstly, agrin deposition along axons exhibits a time-dependent increase in cultured neurons that requires MMP-mediated focal ECM degradation. Next, local agrin stimulation induces the clustering of mitochondria and synaptic vesicles, two well-known presynaptic markers, and regulates vesicular trafficking and surface insertion of MT1-MMP. MMP inhibitor or MT1-MMP knockdown suppresses agrin-induced presynaptic differentiation, which can be rescued by treatment with the ectodomain of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 (Lrp4). Finally, neuronal MT1-MMP knockdown inhibits agrin deposition and nerve-induced acetylcholine receptor clustering in nerve-muscle co-cultures and affects synaptic structures at Xenopus NMJs in vivo. Collectively, our results demonstrate a previously unappreciated role of agrin, as well as dual functions of neuronal MT1-MMP proteolytic activity in orchestrating agrin deposition and signaling, in presynaptic development.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjcs246710
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

User-Defined Keywords

  • Agrin
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Matrix metalloproteinase
  • Presynaptic differentiation
  • Lrp4


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