Animal Models of the Neuromuscular Junction, Vitally Informative for Understanding Function and the Molecular Mechanisms of Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes.
The neuromuscular junction is the point of contact between motor nerve and skeletal muscle, its vital role in muscle function is reliant on the precise location and function of many proteins. Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) are a heterogeneous group of disorders of neuromuscular transmission with 30 or more implicated proteins. The use of animal models has been instrumental in determining the specific role of many CMS-related proteins. The mouse neuromuscular junction (NMJ) has been extensively studied in animal models of CMS due to its amenability for detailed electrophysiological and histological investigations and relative similarity to human NMJ. As well as their use to determine the precise molecular mechanisms of CMS variants, where an animal model accurately reflects the human phenotype they become useful tools for study of therapeutic interventions. Many of the animal models that have been important in deconvolving the complexities of neuromuscular transmission and revealing the molecular mechanisms of disease are highlighted.