The C. elegans cysteine-string protein homologue, DNJ-14, is dispensable for neuromuscular junction maintenance across ageing [RESEARCH ARTICLE]

Ben Mulcahy, Paul Ibbett, Lindy Holden-Dye, and Vincent O’Connor

Maintenance of synaptic function across ageing is vital in sustaining cognitive function. Synaptic dysfunction is a key part of the pathophysiology of a number of neurodegenerative diseases. The synaptic co-chaperone, cysteine-string protein (CSP), is important for synaptic maintenance and function in Drosophila, mice, and humans, and disruption of CSP results in synaptic degeneration. We sought to characterize synaptic ageing in C. elegans upon genetic disruption of CSP. To do this we focused on the worms’ neuromuscular junctions which are the best characterized synapse. CSP mutant worms did not display reduced lifespan or any neuromuscular-dependent behavioural deficits across ageing. Pharmacological interrogation of the neuromuscular synapse of CSP mutant animals showed no sign of synaptic dysfunction even at advanced age. Lastly, patch clamp analysis of neuromuscular transmission across ageing in wild-type and CSP mutant animals revealed no obvious CSP-dependent deficits. Electrophysiological mPSC analysis reinforced pharmacological observations that the C. elegans neuromuscular synapse increases in strength during early ageing and remains relatively intact in old, immotile worms. Taken together this study shows that surprisingly, despite disruption of CSP in other animals having severe synaptic phenotypes, CSP does not seem to be important for maintenance of the neuromuscular junction across ageing in C. elegans.

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