NCAM 180 isoform null neuromuscular junctions are unable to effectively mobilize and exocytose synaptic vesicles and thus exhibit periods of total transmission failure during high-frequency repetitive stimulation. We have identified a highly conserved C-terminal (KENESKA) domain on NCAM that is required to maintain effective transmission and demonstrate that it acts via a pathway involving MLCK and probably myosin light chain (MLC) and myosin II. By perfecting a method of introducing peptides into adult NMJs, we tested the hypothesized role of proteins in this pathway by competitive disruption of protein-protein interactions. The effects of KENESKA and other peptides on MLCK and MLC activation and on failures in both wild-type and NCAM 180 null junctions supported this pathway, and serine phosphorylation of KENESKA was critical. We propose that this pathway is required to replenish synaptic vesicles utilized during high levels of exocytosis by facilitating myosin-driven delivery of synaptic vesicles to active zones or their subsequent exocytosis.
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