Plastin 3 (PLS3) is an F-actin-bundling protein that has gained attention as a modifier of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) pathology. SMA is a lethal pediatric neuromuscular disease caused by loss of or mutations in the Survival Motor Neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. Pathophysiological hallmarks are cellular maturation defects of motoneurons prior to degeneration. Despite the observed beneficial modifying effect of PLS3, the mechanism of how it supports F-actin-mediated cellular processes in motoneurons is not yet well understood. Our data reveal disturbed F-actin-dependent translocation of the Tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) to the cell surface of Smn-deficient motor axon terminals, resulting in reduced TrkB activation by its ligand brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Improved actin dynamics by overexpression of hPLS3 restores membrane recruitment and activation of TrkB and enhances spontaneous calcium transients by increasing Cav2.1/2 “cluster-like” formations in SMA axon terminals. Thus, our study provides a novel role for PLS3 in supporting correct alignment of transmembrane proteins, a key mechanism for (moto)-neuronal development.

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