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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Myosin VI contributes to synaptic transmission and development at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction

Marta Kisiel, Debolina Majumdar, Shelagh Campbell and Bryan A Stewart*

Author affiliations

Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Rd, Mississauga, ON, L5L 1C6, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-65

Published: 11 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Myosin VI, encoded by jaguar (jar) in Drosophila melanogaster, is a unique member of the myosin superfamily of actin-based motor proteins. Myosin VI is the only myosin known to move towards the minus or pointed ends of actin filaments. Although Myosin VI has been implicated in numerous cellular processes as both an anchor and a transporter, little is known about the role of Myosin VI in the nervous system. We previously recovered jar in a screen for genes that modify neuromuscular junction (NMJ) development and here we report on the genetic analysis of Myosin VI in synaptic development and function using loss of function jar alleles.

Results

Our experiments on Drosophila third instar larvae revealed decreased locomotor activity, a decrease in NMJ length, a reduction in synaptic bouton number, and altered synaptic vesicle localization in jar mutants. Furthermore, our studies of synaptic transmission revealed alterations in both basal synaptic transmission and short-term plasticity at the jar mutant neuromuscular synapse.

Conclusions

Altogether these findings indicate that Myosin VI is important for proper synaptic function and morphology. Myosin VI may be functioning as an anchor to tether vesicles to the bouton periphery and, thereby, participating in the regulation of synaptic vesicle mobilization during synaptic transmission.