The survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein is a major component of the pre-mRNA splicing machinery and is required for RNA metabolism. Although SMN has been considered a fundamental gene for the central nervous system, due to its relationship with neuromuscular diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy, recent studies have also revealed the requirement of SMN in non-neuronal cells in the peripheral regions. Here, we report that the fibro-adipogenic progenitor subpopulation expressing Dpp4 (Dpp4+ FAPs) is required for the neuromuscular system. Furthermore, we also reveal that BRCA1-associated protein-1 (Bap1) is crucial for the stabilization of SMN in FAPs by preventing its ubiquitination-dependent degradation. Inactivation of Bap1 in FAPs decreased SMN levels and accompanied degeneration of the neuromuscular junction, leading to loss of motor neurons and muscle atrophy. Overexpression of the ubiquitination-resistant SMN variant, SMNK186R, in Bap1-null FAPs completely prevented neuromuscular degeneration. In addition, transplantation of Dpp4+ FAPs, but not Dpp4– FAPs, completely rescued neuromuscular defects. Our data reveal the crucial role of Bap1-mediated SMN stabilization in Dpp4+ FAPs for the neuromuscular system and provide the possibility of cell-based therapeutics to treat neuromuscular diseases.
Ji-Hoon Kim, Jong-Seol Kang, Kyusang Yoo, Jinguk Jeong, Inkuk Park, Jong Ho Park, Joonwoo Rhee, Shin Jeon, Young-Woo Jo, Sang-Hyeon Hann, Minji Seo, Seungtae Moon, Soo-Jong Um, Rho Hyun Seong, Young-Yun Kong