Drosophila Homolog of the Human Carpenter Syndrome Linked Gene, MEGF8, Is Required for Synapse Development and Function

Shuting Chen, Anand Venkatesan, Yong Qi Lin, Jing Xie, Gregory Neely, Swati Banerjee, Manzoor A. Bhat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Drosophila multiple epidermal growth factor-like domains 8 (dMegf8) is a homolog of human MEGF8. MEGF8 encodes a multidomain transmembrane protein which is highly conserved across species. In humans, MEGF8 mutations cause a rare genetic disorder called Carpenter syndrome, which is frequently associated with abnormal left-right patterning, cardiac defects, and learning disabilities. MEGF8 is also associated with psychiatric disorders. Despite its clinical relevance, MEGF8 remains poorly characterized; and although it is highly conserved, studies on animal models of Megf8 are also very limited. The presence of intellectual disabilities in Carpenter syndrome patients and association of MEGF8 with psychiatric disorders indicate that mutations in MEGF8 cause underlying defects in synaptic structure and functions. In this study, we investigated the role of Drosophila dMegf8 in glutamatergic synapses of the larval neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) in both males and females. We show that dMegf8 localizes to NMJ synapses and is required for proper synaptic growth. dMegf8 mutant larvae and adults show severe motor coordination deficits. At the NMJ, dMegf8 mutants show altered localization of presynaptic and postsynaptic proteins, defects in synaptic ultrastructure, and neurotransmission. Interestingly, dMegf8 mutants have reduced levels of the Type II BMP receptor Wishful thinking (Wit). dMegf8 displays genetic interactions with neurexin-1 (dnrx) and wit, and in association with Dnrx and Wit plays an essential role in synapse organization. Our studies provide insights into human MEGF8 functions and potentially into mechanisms that may underlie intellectual disabilities observed in Carpenter syndrome as well as MEGF8-related synaptic structural and/or functional deficits in psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7016-7030
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 14 2022


  • BMP signaling
  • Carpenter syndrome
  • Drosophila larval NMJ
  • MEGF8
  • Neurexin-1
  • synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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