Myoblast fusion is essential for the formation and regeneration of skeletal muscle. In a genetic screen for regulators of muscle development in Drosophila, we discovered a gene encoding a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, called loner, which is required for myoblast fusion. Loner localizes to subcellular sites of fusion and acts downstream of cell surface fusion receptors by recruiting the small GTPase ARF6 and stimulating guanine nucleotide exchange. Accordingly, a dominant-negative ARF6 disrupts myoblast fusion in Drosophila embryos and in mammalian myoblasts in culture, mimicking the fusion defects caused by loss of Loner. Loner and ARF6, which also control the proper membrane localization of another small GTPase, Rac, are key components of a cellular apparatus required for myoblast fusion and muscle development. In muscle cells, this fusigenic mechanism is coupled to fusion receptors; in other fusion-competent cell types it may be triggered by different upstream signals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)