Postsynaptic assembly induced by neurexin-neuroligin interaction and neurotransmitter.
ABSTRACT: Presynaptic and postsynaptic differentiation occurs at axodendritic contacts between CNS neurons. Synaptic adhesion mediated by synaptic cell adhesion molecule (SynCAM) and beta-neurexins/neuroligins triggers presynaptic differentiation. The signals that trigger postsynaptic differentiation are, however, unknown. Here we report that beta-neurexin expressed in nonneuronal cells induced postsynaptic density (PSD)-95 clustering in contacting dendrites of hippocampal neurons. The effect is specific to beta-neurexin and was not observed with other synaptic cell adhesion molecules such as N-cadherin or SynCAM. NMDA receptors, but not alpha-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate receptors (AMPARs), were recruited to this beta-neurexin-induced PSD-95 scaffold. Remarkably, AMPARs were inserted into this scaffold upon glutamate application or expression of a constitutively active form of calmodulin kinase II in neurons. Expression of a dominant-negative neuroligin-1 in cultured neurons markedly reduced the sizes and densities of PSD-95 puncta and AMPAR clusters. In addition, excitatory, but not inhibitory, synaptic functions were impaired in these neurons, confirming that PSD-95/neuroligin-1 interaction is involved in postsynaptic assembly at glutamatergic synapses. These results demonstrate that postsynaptic assembly of the glutamatergic synapse may be initiated by presynaptic beta-neurexin and that glutamate release also is required for maturation of synapses.
Project description:Synaptic efficacy requires that presynaptic and postsynaptic specializations align precisely and mature coordinately. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, however. We propose that adenomatous polyposis coli protein (APC) is a key coordinator of presynaptic and postsynaptic maturation. APC organizes a multiprotein complex that directs nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) localization at postsynaptic sites in avian ciliary ganglion neurons in vivo. We hypothesize that the APC complex also provides retrograde signals that direct presynaptic active zones to develop in register with postsynaptic nAChR clusters. In our model, the APC complex provides retrograde signals via postsynaptic neuroligin that interacts extracellularly with presynaptic neurexin. S-SCAM (synaptic cell adhesion molecule) and PSD-93 (postsynaptic density-93) are scaffold proteins that bind to neuroligin. We identify S-SCAM as a novel component of neuronal nicotinic synapses. We show that S-SCAM, PSD-93, neuroligin and neurexin are enriched at alpha3*-nAChR synapses. PSD-93 and S-SCAM bind to APC and its binding partner beta-catenin, respectively. Blockade of selected APC and beta-catenin interactions, in vivo, leads to decreased postsynaptic accumulation of S-SCAM, but not PSD-93. Importantly, neuroligin synaptic clusters are also decreased. On the presynaptic side, there are decreases in neurexin and active zone proteins. Further, presynaptic terminals are less mature structurally and functionally. We define a novel neural role for APC by showing that the postsynaptic APC multiprotein complex is required for anchoring neuroligin and neurexin at neuronal synapses in vivo. APC human gene mutations correlate with autism spectrum disorders, providing strong support for the importance of the association, demonstrated here, between APC, neuroligin and neurexin.
Project description:The structure and function of presynaptic and postsynaptic components of the synapse are highly coordinated. How such coordination is achieved and the molecules involved in this process have not been clarified. Several lines of evidence suggest that presynaptic functionalities are regulated by retrograde mechanisms from the postsynaptic side. We therefore sought postsynaptic mechanisms responsible for trans-synaptic regulation of presynaptic function at excitatory synapses in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. We show here that the postsynaptic complex of scaffolding protein PSD-95 and neuroligin can modulate the release probability of transmitter vesicles at synapse in a retrograde way, resulting in altered presynaptic short-term plasticity. Presynaptic beta-neurexin serves as a likely presynaptic mediator of this effect. Our results indicate that trans-synaptic protein-protein interactions can link postsynaptic and presynaptic function.
Project description:Postsynaptic neuroligins are thought to perform essential functions in synapse validation and synaptic transmission by binding to, and dimerizing, presynaptic alpha- and beta-neurexins. To test this hypothesis, we examined the functional effects of neuroligin-1 mutations that impair only alpha-neurexin binding, block both alpha- and beta-neurexin binding, or abolish neuroligin-1 dimerization. Abolishing alpha-neurexin binding abrogated neuroligin-induced generation of neuronal synapses onto transfected non-neuronal cells in the so-called artificial synapse-formation assay, even though beta-neurexin binding was retained. Thus, in this assay, neuroligin-1 induces apparent synapse formation by binding to presynaptic alpha-neurexins. In transfected neurons, however, neither alpha- nor beta-neurexin binding was essential for the ability of postsynaptic neuroligin-1 to dramatically increase synapse density, suggesting a neurexin-independent mechanism of synapse formation. Moreover, neuroligin-1 dimerization was not required for either the non-neuronal or the neuronal synapse-formation assay. Nevertheless, both alpha-neurexin binding and neuroligin-1 dimerization were essential for the increase in apparent synapse size that is induced by neuroligin-1 in transfected neurons. Thus, neuroligin-1 performs diverse synaptic functions by mechanisms that include as essential components of alpha-neurexin binding and neuroligin dimerization, but extend beyond these activities.
Project description:Synapse formation occurs when synaptogenic signals trigger coordinated development of pre and postsynaptic structures. One of the best-characterized synaptogenic signals is trans-synaptic adhesion. However, it remains unclear how synaptic proteins are recruited to sites of adhesion. In particular, it is unknown whether synaptogenic signals attract synaptic vesicle (SV) and active zone (AZ) proteins to nascent synapses or instead predominantly function to create sites that are capable of forming synapses. It is also unclear how labile synaptic proteins are at developing synapses after their initial recruitment. To address these issues, we used long-term, live confocal imaging of presynaptic terminal formation in cultured cortical neurons after contact with the synaptogenic postsynaptic adhesion proteins neuroligin-1 or SynCAM-1.Surprisingly, we find that trans-synaptic adhesion does not attract SV or AZ proteins nor alter their transport. In addition, although neurexin (the presynaptic partner of neuroligin) typically accumulates over the entire region of contact between axons and neuroligin-1-expressing cells, SV proteins selectively assemble at spots of enhanced neurexin clustering. The arrival and maintenance of SV proteins at these sites is highly variable over the course of minutes to hours, and this variability correlates with neurexin levels at individual synapses.Together, our data support a model of synaptogenesis where presynaptic proteins are trapped at specific axonal sites, where they are stabilized by trans-synaptic adhesion signaling.
Project description:Formation of synaptic connections requires alignment of neurotransmitter receptors on postsynaptic dendrites opposite matching transmitter release sites on presynaptic axons. beta-neurexins and neuroligins form a trans-synaptic link at glutamate synapses. We show here that neurexin alone is sufficient to induce glutamate postsynaptic differentiation in contacting dendrites. Surprisingly, neurexin also induces GABA postsynaptic differentiation. Conversely, neuroligins induce presynaptic differentiation in both glutamate and GABA axons. Whereas neuroligins-1, -3, and -4 localize to glutamate postsynaptic sites, neuroligin-2 localizes primarily to GABA synapses. Direct aggregation of neuroligins reveals a linkage of neuroligin-2 to GABA and glutamate postsynaptic proteins, but the other neuroligins only to glutamate postsynaptic proteins. Furthermore, mislocalized expression of neuroligin-2 disperses postsynaptic proteins and disrupts synaptic transmission. Our findings indicate that the neurexin-neuroligin link is a core component mediating both GABAergic and glutamatergic synaptogenesis, and differences in isoform localization and binding affinities may contribute to appropriate differentiation and specificity.
Project description:The formation of neuronal circuits during development involves a combination of synapse stabilization and elimination events. Synaptic adhesion molecules are thought to play an important role in synaptogenesis, and several trans-synaptic adhesion systems that promote the formation and maturation of synapses have been identified. The neuroligin-neurexin complex is a heterophilic adhesion system that promotes assembly and maturation of synapses through bidirectional signaling. In this protein complex, postsynaptic neuroligins are thought to interact trans-synaptically with presynaptic neurexins. However, the subcellular localization of neurexins has not been determined. Using immunoelectron microscopy, we found that endogenous neurexins and epitope-tagged neurexin-1beta are localized to axons and presynaptic terminals in vivo. Unexpectedly, neurexins are also abundant in the postsynaptic density. cis-expression of neurexin-1beta with neuroligin-1 inhibits trans-binding to recombinant neurexins, blocks the synaptogenic activity of neuroligin-1, and reduces the density of presynaptic terminals in cultured hippocampal neurons. Our results demonstrate that the function of neurexin proteins is more diverse than previously anticipated and suggest that postsynaptic cis-interactions might provide a novel mechanism for silencing the activity of a synaptic adhesion complex.
Project description:Beta-neurexin and neuroligin cell adhesion molecules contribute to synapse development in the brain. The longer alpha-neurexins function at both glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synapses in coupling to presynaptic calcium channels. Binding of alpha-neurexins to neuroligins was recently reported, but the role of the alpha-neurexins in synapse development has not been well studied. Here we report that in COS cell neuron coculture assays, all three alpha-neurexins induce clustering of the GABAergic postsynaptic scaffolding protein gephyrin and neuroligin 2 but not of the glutamatergic postsynaptic scaffolding protein PSD-95 or neuroligin 1/3/4. alpha-Neurexins also induce clustering of the GABA(A) receptor gamma2 subunit. This synapse promoting activity of alpha-neurexins is mediated by the sixth LNS (laminin neurexin sex hormone-binding protein) domain and negatively modulated by upstream sequences. Although inserts at splice site 4 (S4) in beta-neurexins promote greater clustering activity for GABA than glutamate proteins in coculture assay, alpha-neurexin-specific sequences confer complete specificity for GABA proteins. We further report a developmental increase in the ratio of -S4 to +S4 forms of neurexins correlating with an increase in glutamate relative to GABA synaptogenesis and activity regulation of splicing at S4. Thus, +S4 beta-neurexins and, even more selectively, alpha-neurexins may be mediators of GABAergic synaptic protein recruitment and stabilization.
Project description:Classically, neurexins are thought to mediate synaptic connections through trans interactions with a number of different postsynaptic partners. Neurexins are cleaved by metalloproteases in an activity-dependent manner, releasing the soluble extracellular domain. Here, we report that in both immature (before synaptogenesis) and mature (after synaptogenesis) hippocampal neurons, the soluble neurexin-1? ectodomain triggers acute Ca2+-influx at the dendritic/postsynaptic side. In both cases, neuroligin-1 expression was required. In immature neurons, calcium influx required N-type calcium channels and stimulated dendritic outgrowth and neuronal survival. In mature glutamatergic neurons the neurexin-1? ectodomain stimulated calcium influx through NMDA-receptors, which increased presynaptic release probability. In contrast, prolonged exposure to the ectodomain led to inhibition of synaptic transmission. This secondary inhibition was activity- and neuroligin-1 dependent and caused by a reduction in the readily-releasable pool of vesicles. A synthetic peptide modeled after the neurexin-1?:neuroligin-1 interaction site reproduced the cellular effects of the neurexin-1? ectodomain. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that the soluble neurexin ectodomain stimulates growth of neurons and exerts acute and chronic effects on trans-synaptic signaling involved in setting synaptic strength.
Project description:Neurexins are a large family of proteins that act as neuronal cell-surface receptors. The function and localization of the various neurexins, however, have not yet been clarified. Beta-neurexins are candidate receptors for neuroligin-1, a postsynaptic membrane protein that can trigger synapse formation at axon contacts. Here we report that neurexins are concentrated at synapses and that purified neuroligin is sufficient to cluster neurexin and to induce presynaptic differentiation. Oligomerization of neuroligin is required for its function, and we find that beta-neurexin clustering is sufficient to trigger the recruitment of synaptic vesicles through interactions that require the cytoplasmic domain of neurexin. We propose a two-step model in which postsynaptic neuroligin multimers initially cluster axonal neurexins. In response to this clustering, neurexins nucleate the assembly of a cytoplasmic scaffold to which the exocytotic apparatus is recruited.
Project description:Recently, leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs) were found to be synaptic cell-adhesion molecules that, when expressed in nonneuronal cells, induce presynaptic differentiation in contacting axons. We now demonstrate that LRRTM2 induces only excitatory synapses, and that it also acts to induce synapses in transfected neurons similarly to neuroligin-1. Using affinity chromatography, we identified alpha- and beta-neurexins as LRRTM2 ligands, again rendering LRRTM2 similar to neuroligin-1. However, whereas neuroligins bind neurexins containing or lacking an insert in splice site #4, LRRTM2 only binds neurexins lacking an insert in splice site #4. Binding of neurexins to LRRTM2 can produce cell-adhesion junctions, consistent with a trans-interaction regulated by neurexin alternative splicing, and recombinant neurexin-1beta blocks LRRTM2's ability to promote presynaptic differentiation. Thus, our data suggest that two unrelated postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules, LRRTMs and neuroligins, unexpectedly bind to neurexins as the same presynaptic receptor, but that their binding is subject to distinct regulatory mechanisms.