Pumilio (Pum) is a translational repressor that binds selectively to target mRNAs and recruits Nanos (Nos) as a corepressor. In the larval neuromuscular system, Pum represses expression of the translation factor eIF-4E and the glutamate receptor subunit GluRIIA. Here, we show that Nos, like Pum, is expressed at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and in neuronal cell bodies. Surprisingly, however, Nos and Pumhave divergent functions on both the presynaptic and postsynaptic sides of the NMJ. In nos mutant and nos RNA interference larvae, the number of NMJ boutons is increased, whereas loss of Pum reduces the bouton number. On the postsynaptic side, Nos acts in opposition to Pum in regulating the subunit composition of the glutamate receptor. NMJ active zones are associated with GluRIIA- and GluRIIB-containing receptor clusters. Loss of Nos causes downregulation of GluRIIA and increases the levels of GluRIIB. Consistent with this finding, the electrophysiological properties of NMJs lacking postsynaptic Nos suggest that they use primarily GluRIIB-containing receptors. Nos can regulate GluRIIB in the absence of GluRIIA, suggesting that the effects of Nos on GluRIIB levels are at least partially independent of synaptic competition between GluRIIA and GluRIIB. Nos is a target for Pum repression, and Pum binds selectively to the 3′ untranslated regions of the nos and GluRIIA mRNAs. Our results suggest a model in which regulatory interplay among Pum, Nos, GluRIIA, and GluRIIB could cause a small change in Pum activity to be amplified into a large shift in the balance between GluRIIA and GluRIIB synapses.
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