Neuromuscular NMDA receptors modulate developmental synapse elimination

Kirkwood E. Personius, Barbara S. Slusher, Susan B. Udin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


At birth, each mammalian skeletal muscle fiber is innervated by multiple motor neurons, but in a few weeks, all but one of those axons retracts (Redfern, 1970) and differential activity between inputs controls this phenomenon (Personius and Balice-Gordon, 2001; Sanes and Lichtman, 2001; Personius et al., 2007; Favero et al., 2012). Acetylcholine, the primary neuromuscular transmitter, has long been presumed to mediate this activity-dependent process (O’Brien et al., 1978), but glutamatergic transmission also occurs at the neuromuscular junction (Berger et al., 1995; Grozdanovic and Gossrau, 1998; Mays et al., 2009). To test the role of neuromuscular NMDA receptors, we assessed their contribution to muscle calcium fluxes in mice and tested whether they influence removal of excess innervation at the end plate. Developmental synapse pruning was slowed by reduction of NMDA receptor activation or expression and by reduction of glutamate production. Conversely, pruning is accelerated by application of exogenous NMDA. We also found that NMDA induced increased muscle calcium only during the first 2 postnatal weeks. Therefore, neuromuscular NMDA receptors play previously unsuspected roles in neuromuscular activity and synaptic pruning during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8783-8789
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 24 2016


  • Competition
  • Glutamate
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Polyneuronal
  • Synapse elimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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