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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(10), 2183;

The Structure of Human Neuromuscular Junctions: Some Unanswered Molecular Questions

Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
Received: 11 September 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 19 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Neuromuscular Synapse in Health and Disease)
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The commands that control animal movement are transmitted from motor neurons to their target muscle cells at the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). The NMJs contain many protein species whose role in transmission depends not only on their inherent properties, but also on how they are distributed within the complex structure of the motor nerve terminal and the postsynaptic muscle membrane. These molecules mediate evoked chemical transmitter release from the nerve and the action of that transmitter on the muscle. Human NMJs are among the smallest known and release the smallest number of transmitter “quanta”. By contrast, they have the most deeply infolded postsynaptic membranes, which help to amplify transmitter action. The same structural features that distinguish human NMJs make them particularly susceptible to pathological processes. While much has been learned about the molecules which mediate transmitter release and action, little is known about the molecular processes that control the growth of the cellular and subcellular components of the NMJ so as to give rise to its mature form. A major challenge for molecular biologists is to understand the molecular basis for the development and maintenance of functionally important aspects of NMJ structure, and thereby to point to new directions for treatment of diseases in which neuromuscular transmission is impaired. View Full-Text
Keywords: neuromuscular junction; structure; neuromuscular transmission; human; mouse; disease neuromuscular junction; structure; neuromuscular transmission; human; mouse; disease

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Slater, C.R. The Structure of Human Neuromuscular Junctions: Some Unanswered Molecular Questions. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 2183.

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