After denervation of muscle, motor axons reinnervate original synaptic sites. A recombinant fragment of the synapse specific laminin beta 2 chain (s-laminin) was reported to inhibit motor axon growth. Consequently, a specific sequence (leucine-arginine-glutamate, LRE) of the laminin beta 2 chain was proposed to act as a stop signal and to mediate specific reinnervation at the neuromuscular junction (Porter, B.E., J. Weis, and J.R. Sanes. 1995. Neuron. 14:549-559). We demonstrate here that native chick laminin-4, which contains the beta 2 chain and is present in the synaptic basement membrane, does not inhibit but rather promotes motor axon growth. In native heterotrimeric laminin, the LRE sequence of the beta 2 chain is found in a triple coiled-coil region that is formed by all three subunits. We show here that the effect of LRE depends on the structural context. Whereas a recombinant randomly coiled LRE peptide indeed inhibited outgrowth by chick motoneurons, a small recombinant triple coiled-coil protein containing this sequence did not.

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