Here, we demonstrate that the BMP receptor Wishful Thinking (Wit) is required for synapse stabilization. In the absence of BMP signaling, synapse disassembly and retraction ensue. Remarkably, downstream Smad-mediated signaling cannot fully account for the stabilizing activity of the BMP receptor. We identify LIM Kinase1 (DLIMK1)-dependent signaling as a second, parallel pathway that confers the added synapse-stabilizing activity of the BMP receptor. We show that DLIMK1 binds a region of the Wit receptor that is necessary for synaptic stability but is dispensable for Smad-mediated synaptic growth. A genetic analysis demonstrates that DLIMK1 is necessary, presynaptically, for synapse stabilization, but is not necessary for normal synaptic growth or function. Furthermore, presynaptic expression of DLIMK1 in a wit or mad mutant significantly rescues synaptic stability, growth, and function. DLIMK1 localizes near synaptic microtubules and functions independently of ADF/cofilin, highlighting a novel requirement for DLIMK1 during synapse stabilization rather than actin-dependent axon outgrowth.
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