TDP-43 promotes the formation of neuromuscular synapses through the regulation of Disc-large expression in Drosophila skeletal muscles

Nina Strah, Giulia Romano, Clelia Introna, Raffaella Klima, Marta Marzullo, Laura Ciapponi, Aram Megighian, Monica Nizzardo, Fabian Feiguin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The ribonuclear protein TDP-43 has been implicated in the pathophysiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with genetic mutations being linked to the neurological symptoms of the disease. Though alterations in the intracellular distribution of TDP-43 have been observed in skeletal muscles of patients suffering from ALS, it is not clear whether such modifications play an active role in the disease or merely represent an expression of muscle homeostatic mechanisms. Also, the molecular and metabolic pathways regulated by TDP-43 in the skeletal muscle remain largely unknown. Here, we analyze the function of TBPH, the Drosophila melanogaster ortholog of TDP-43, in skeletal muscles. Results: We modulated the activity of TDP-43 in Drosophila muscles by means of RNA interference and observed that it is required to promote the formation and growth of neuromuscular synapses. TDP-43 regulated the expression levels of Disc-large (Dlg), and restoring Dlg expression either in skeletal muscles or in motoneurons was sufficient to suppress the locomotive and synaptic defects of TDP-43-null flies. These results were validated by the observation of a decrease in Dlg levels in human neuroblastoma cells and iPSC-differentiated motoneurons derived from ALS patients, suggesting similar mechanisms may potentially be involved in the pathophysiology of the disease. Conclusions: Our results help to unveil the physiological role of TDP-43 in skeletal muscles as well as the mechanisms responsible for the autonomous and non-autonomous behavior of this protein concerning the organization of neuromuscular synapses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 2020


  • ALS
  • Dlg
  • Neuromuscular junctions
  • Skeletal muscles
  • TDP-43

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Structural Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Plant Science
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'TDP-43 promotes the formation of neuromuscular synapses through the regulation of Disc-large expression in Drosophila skeletal muscles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this