Trk-fused gene (TFG) mutations have been identified in patients with several neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we attempted to clarify the effects of TFG deletions in motor neurons and in muscle fibers, using tissue-specific TFG knockout (vMNTFG KO and MUSTFG KO) mice. vMNTFG KO, generated by crossing TFG floxed with VAChT-Cre, showed deterioration of motor function and muscle atrophy especially in slow-twitch soleus muscle, in line with the predominant Cre expression in slow-twitch fatigue-resistant (S) and fast-twitch fatigue-resistant (FR) motor neurons. Consistently, denervation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) was apparent in the soleus, but not in the extensor digitorum longus, muscle. Muscle TFG expressions were significantly downregulated in vMNTFG KO, presumably due to decreased muscle IGF-1 concentrations. However, interestingly, MUSTFG KO mice showed no apparent impairment of muscle movements, though a denervation marker, AChRγ, was elevated and Agrin-induced AChR clustering in C2C12 myotubes was inhibited. Our results clarify that loss of motor neuron TFG is sufficient for the occurrence of NMJ degeneration and muscle atrophy, though lack of muscle TFG may exert an additional effect. Reduced muscle TFG, also observed in aged mice, might be involved in age-related NMJ degeneration, and this issue merits further study.
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