Four-and-a-half LIM domain protein 1 (FHL1) is a member of the FHL protein family that serves as a scaffold protein to maintain normal cellular structure and function. Its mutations have been implicated in multiple muscular diseases. These FHL1 related myopathies are characterized by symptoms such as progressive muscle loss, rigid or bent spine, even cardiac or respiratory failure in some patients, which implies pathological problems not only in muscles, but also in the nervous system. Moreover, decreased FHL1 protein level has been found in patients with FHL1 mutations, indicating the protein loss-of-function as a pathological cause of such diseases. These findings suggest the significance of understanding the systemic role of FHL1 in the homeostasis of nervous system and muscle. Here we reported that Fhl1 loss in C2C12 myotubes obscured acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering in addition to myotube fusion, which was associated with impaired MuSK phosphorylation. Mechanistically, myostatin-SMAD2/3 signaling was enhanced, whereas IGF-PI3K-AKT signaling was suppressed in Fhl1 C2C12 myotubes. Reversion of these molecular alterations rescued AChR clustering and differentiation deficits. These data outline a systemic regulation of AChR clustering and myotube fusion by FHL1, which may offer clues for mechanism study and development of therapeutic strategies to treat FHL1 related myopathies.
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