As the nervous system develops, connections between neurons must form to enable efficient communication. This complex process of synaptic development requires the coordination of a series of intricate mechanisms between partner neurons to ensure pre- and postsynaptic differentiation. Many of these mechanisms employ transsynaptic signaling via essential secreted factors and cell surface receptors to promote each step of synaptic development. One such cell surface receptor, LRP4, has emerged as a synaptic organizer, playing a critical role in conveying extracellular signals to initiate diverse intracellular events during development. To date, LRP4 is largely known for its role in development of the mammalian neuromuscular junction, where it functions as a receptor for the synaptogenic signal Agrin to regulate synapse development. Recently however, LRP4 has emerged as a synapse organizer in the brain, where new functions for the protein continue to arise, adding further complexity to its already versatile roles. Additional findings indicate that LRP4 plays a role in disorders of the nervous system, including myasthenia gravis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, demonstrating the need for further study to understand disease etiology. This review will highlight our current knowledge of how LRP4 functions in the nervous system, focusing on the diverse developmental roles and different modes this essential cell surface protein uses to ensure the formation of robust synaptic connections.
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