Upon the stimulation of extracellular cues, a significant number of proteins are synthesized distally along the axon. Although local protein synthesis is crucial for various stages throughout neuronal development, its involvement in presynaptic differentiation at developing neuromuscular junctions remains unknown. By using axon severing and microfluidic chamber assays, we first showed that treatment of a protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide, inhibits agrin-induced presynaptic differentiation in cultured Xenopus spinal neurons. Newly synthesized proteins are prominently detected, as revealed by the staining of click-reactive cell-permeable puromycin analog O-propargyl-puromycin, at agrin bead-neurite contacts involving the mTOR/4E-BP1 pathway. Next, live-cell time-lapse imaging demonstrated the local capturing and immobilization of ribonucleoprotein granules upon agrin bead stimulation. Given that our recent study reported the roles of membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) in agrin-induced presynaptic differentiation, here we further showed that MT1-MMP mRNA is spatially enriched and locally translated at sites induced by agrin beads. Taken together, this study reveals an essential role for axonal MT1-MMP translation, on top of the well-recognized long-range transport of MT1-MMP proteins synthesized from neuronal cell bodies, in mediating agrin-induced presynaptic differentiation.

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