The cellular architecture and molecular determinants of the zebrafish fusogenic synapse

Zhou Luo, Jun Shi, Pratima Pandey, Zhi Rong Ruan, Maria Sevdali, Ye Bu, Yue Lu, Shaojun Du, Elizabeth H. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Myoblast fusion is an indispensable process in skeletal muscle development and regeneration. Studies in Drosophila led to the discovery of the asymmetric fusogenic synapse, in which one cell invades its fusion partner with actin-propelled membrane protrusions to promote fusion. However, the timing and sites of vertebrate myoblast fusion remain elusive. Here, we show that fusion between zebrafish fast muscle cells is mediated by an F-actin-enriched invasive structure. Two cell adhesion molecules, Jam2a and Jam3b, are associated with the actin structure, with Jam2a being the major organizer. The Arp2/3 actin nucleation-promoting factors, WAVE and WASP—but not the bipartite fusogenic proteins, Myomaker or Myomixer—promote the formation of the invasive structure. Moreover, the convergence of fusogen-containing microdomains and the invasive protrusions is a prerequisite for cell membrane fusion. Thus, our study provides unprecedented insights into the cellular architecture and molecular determinants of the asymmetric fusogenic synapse in an intact vertebrate animal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1582-1597.e6
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 11 2022


  • actin cytoskeleton
  • cell-cell fusion
  • invasive membrane protrusions
  • Jam2a/Jamb
  • Jam3b/Jamc
  • myoblast fusion
  • Myomaker
  • Myomixer
  • WASP and WAVE
  • zebrafish muscle development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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