Activity-regulated growth of motoneurons at the neuromuscular junction is mediated by NADPH oxidases


Neurons respond to changes in the levels of activity they experience in a variety of ways, including structural changes at pre- and postsynaptic terminals. An essential plasticity signal required for such activity-regulated structural adjustments are reactive oxygen species (ROS). To identify sources of activity-regulated ROS required for structural plasticity in vivo we used the Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction as a highly tractable experimental model system. For adjustments of presynaptic motor terminals, we found a requirement for both NADPH oxidases, Nox and Dual Oxidase (Duox), that are encoded in the Drosophila genome. This contrasts with the postsynaptic dendrites from which Nox is excluded. NADPH oxidases generate ROS to the extracellular space. Here, we show that two aquaporins, Bib and Drip, are necessary ROS conduits in the presynaptic motoneuron for activity regulated, NADPH oxidase dependent changes in presynaptic motoneuron terminal growth. Our data further suggest that different aspects of neuronal activity-regulated structural changes might be regulated by different ROS sources: changes in bouton number require both NADPH oxidases, while activity-regulated changes in the number of active zones might be modulated by other sources of ROS. Overall, our results show NADPH oxidases as important enzymes for mediating activity-regulated plasticity adjustments in neurons.