Pathogenetic model for Tourette syndrome delineates overlap with related neurodevelopmental disorders including Autism.
ABSTRACT: Tourette syndrome (TS) is a highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by motor and vocal tics. Despite decades of research, the aetiology of TS has remained elusive. Recent successes in gene discovery backed by rapidly advancing genomic technologies have given us new insights into the genetic basis of the disorder, but the growing collection of rare and disparate findings have added confusion and complexity to the attempts to translate these findings into neurobiological mechanisms resulting in symptom genesis. In this review, we explore a previously unrecognised genetic link between TS and a competing series of trans-synaptic complexes (neurexins (NRXNs), neuroligins (NLGNs), leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs), leucine rich repeat neuronals (LRRNs) and cerebellin precursor 2 (CBLN2)) that links it with autism spectrum disorder through neurodevelopmental pathways. The emergent neuropathogenetic model integrates all five genes so far found to be uniquely disrupted in TS into a single pathogenetic chain of events described in context with clinical and research implications.
Project description:Synapses, highly specialized membrane junctions between neurons, connect presynaptic neurotransmitter release sites and postsynaptic ligand-gated channels. Neurexins (Nrxns), a family of presynaptic adhesion molecules, have been characterized as major regulators of synapse development and function. Via their extracellular domains, Nrxns bind to different postsynaptic proteins, generating highly diverse functional readouts through their postsynaptic binding partners. Not surprisingly given these versatile protein interactions, mutations and deletions of Nrxn genes have been identified in patients with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia. Therefore, elucidating the expression profiles of Nrxns in the brain is of high significance. Here, using chromogenic and fluorescent in situ hybridization, we characterize the expression patterns of Nrxn isoforms throughout the brain. We found that each Nrxn isoform displays a unique expression profile in a region-, cell type-, and sensory system-specific manner. Interestingly, we also found that ?Nrxn1 and ?Nrxn2 mRNAs are expressed in non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Lastly, we found diverse expression patterns of genes that encode Nrxn binding proteins, such as Neuroligins (Nlgns), Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal protein (Lrrtms) and Latrophilins (Adgrls), suggesting that Nrxn proteins can mediate numerous combinations of trans-synaptic interactions. Together, our anatomical profiling of Nrxn gene expression reflects the diverse roles of Nrxn molecules.
Project description:Cerebellin precursor protein (Cbln1) is essential for synapse integrity in cerebellum through assembly into complexes that bridge pre-synaptic ?-neurexins (Nrxn) to post-synaptic GluR?2. However, GluR?2 is largely cerebellum-specific, yet Cbln1 and its little studied family members, Cbln2 and Cbln4, are expressed throughout brain. Therefore, we investigated whether additional proteins mediate Cbln family actions. Whereas Cbln1 and Cbln2 bound to GluR?2 and Nrxns1-3, Cbln4 bound weakly or not at all, suggesting it has distinct binding partners. In a candidate receptor-screening assay, Cbln4 (but not Cbln1 or Cbln2) bound selectively to the netrin receptor, (deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) in a netrin-displaceable fashion. To determine whether Cbln4 had a netrin-like function, Cbln4-null mice were generated. Cbln4-null mice did not phenocopy netrin-null mice. Cbln1 and Cbln4 were likely co-localized in neurons thought to be responsible for synaptic changes in striatum of Cbln1-null mice. Furthermore, complexes containing Cbln1 and Cbln4 had greatly reduced affinity to DCC but increased affinity to Nrxns, suggesting a functional interaction. However, Cbln4-null mice lacked the striatal synaptic changes seen in Cbln null mice. Thus, Cbln family members interact with multiple receptors/signaling pathways in a subunit composition-dependent manner and have independent functions with Cbln4 potentially involved in the less well-characterized role of netrin/DCC in adult brain.
Project description:Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal proteins (LRRTMs) function as postsynaptic organizers that induce excitatory synapses. Neurexins (Nrxns) and heparan sulfate proteoglycans have been identified as presynaptic ligands for LRRTMs. Specifically, LRRTM1 and LRRTM2 bind to the Nrxn splice variant lacking an insert at the splice site 4 (S4). Here, we report the crystal structure of the Nrxn1?-LRRTM2 complex at 3.4?Å resolution. The Nrxn1?-LRRTM2 interface involves Ca2+-mediated interactions and overlaps with the Nrxn-neuroligin interface. Together with structure-based mutational analyses at the molecular and cellular levels, the present structural analysis unveils the mechanism of selective binding between Nrxn and LRRTM1/2 and its modulation by the S4 insertion of Nrxn.
Project description:Cerebellin-1 (Cbln1), the most studied member of the cerebellin family of secreted proteins, is necessary for the formation and maintenance of parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses. However, the roles of the other Cblns have received little attention. We previously identified the chicken homolog of Cbln2 and examined its expression in dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord (Yang et al.  J Comp Neurol 518:2818-2840). Interestingly, Cbln2 is expressed by mechanoreceptive and proprioceptive neurons and in regions of the spinal cord where those afferents terminate, as well as by preganglionic sympathetic neurons and their sympathetic ganglia targets. These findings suggest that Cbln2 may demonstrate a tendency to be expressed by synaptically connected neuronal populations. To further assess this possibility, we examined Cbln2 expression in chick brain. We indeed found that Cbln2 is frequently expressed by synaptically connected neurons, although there are exceptions, and we discuss the implications of these findings for Cbln2 function. Cbln2 expression tends to be more common in primary sensory neurons and in second-order sensory regions than it is in motor areas of the brain. Moreover, we found that the level of Cbln2 expression for many regions of the chicken brain is very similar to that of the mammalian homologs, consistent with the view that the expression patterns of molecules playing fundamental roles in processes such as neuronal communication are evolutionarily conserved. There are, however, large differences in the pattern of Cbln2 expression in avian as compared to mammalian telencephalon and in other regions that show the most divergence between the two lineages.
Project description:?- and ?-neurexins (NRXNs) are transmembrane cell adhesion proteins that localize to presynaptic membranes in neurons and interact with the postsynaptic neuroligins (NLGNs). Their gene mutations are associated with the autism spectrum disorders. The extracellular region of ?-NRXNs, containing nine independently folded domains, has structural complexity and unique functional characteristics, distinguishing it from the smaller ?-NRXNs. We have solved the X-ray crystal structure of seven contiguous domains of the ?-NRXN-1 extracellular region at 3.0 Å resolution. The structure reveals an arrangement where the N-terminal five domains adopt a more rigid linear conformation and the two C-terminal domains form a separate arm connected by a flexible hinge. In an extended conformation the molecule is suitably configured to accommodate a bound NLGN molecule, as supported by structural comparison and surface plasmon resonance. These studies provide the structural basis for a multifunctional synaptic adhesion complex mediated by ?-NRXN-1.
Project description:Synaptic cell adhesion molecules, including the neurexin ligands, neuroligins (NLs) and leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs), are thought to organize synapse assembly and specify synapse function. To test the synaptic role of these molecules in vivo, we performed lentivirally mediated knockdown of NL3, LRRTM1, and LRRTM2 in CA1 pyramidal cells of WT and NL1 KO mice at postnatal day (P)0 (when synapses are forming) and P21 (when synapses are largely mature). P0 knockdown of NL3 in WT or NL1 KO neurons did not affect excitatory synaptic transmission, whereas P0 knockdown of LRRTM1 and LRRTM2 selectively reduced AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic currents. P0 triple knockdown of NL3 and both LRRTMs in NL1 KO mice yielded greater reductions in AMPA and NMDA receptor-mediated currents, suggesting functional redundancy between NLs and LRRTMs during early synapse development. In contrast, P21 knockdown of LRRTMs did not alter excitatory transmission, whereas NL manipulations supported a role for NL1 in maintaining NMDA receptor-mediated transmission. These results show that neurexin ligands in vivo form a dynamic synaptic cell adhesion network, with compensation between NLs and LRRTMs during early synapse development and functional divergence upon synapse maturation.
Project description:Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs) are synaptic cell adhesion molecules that trigger excitatory synapse assembly in cultured neurons and influence synaptic function in vivo, but their role in synaptic plasticity is unknown. shRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of LRRTM1 and LRRTM2 in vivo in CA1 pyramidal neurons of newborn mice blocked long-term potentiation (LTP) in acute hippocampal slices. Molecular replacement experiments revealed that the LRRTM2 extracellular domain is sufficient for LTP, probably because it mediates binding to neurexins (Nrxs). Examination of surface expression of endogenous AMPA receptors (AMPARs) in cultured neurons suggests that LRRTMs maintain newly delivered AMPARs at synapses after LTP induction. LRRTMs are also required for LTP of mature synapses on adult CA1 pyramidal neurons, indicating that the block of LTP in neonatal synapses by LRRTM1 and LRRTM2 KD is not due to impairment of synapse maturation.
Project description:Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of synapse formation is a prerequisite for the understanding of neural wiring, higher brain functions, and mental disorders. The trans-synaptic interaction of postsynaptic glutamate receptor ?2 (GluR?2) and presynaptic neurexins (NRXNs) through cerebellin precursor protein 1 (Cbln1) mediates synapse formation in vivo in the cerebellum. Here, we asked how the trans-synaptic triad induces synapse formation. Native GluR?2 existed as a tetramer in the membrane, whereas the N-terminal domain (NTD) of GluR?2 formed a stable homodimer. When incubated with cultured mouse cerebellar granule cells (GCs), dimeric GluR?2-NTD and Cbln1 exerted little effect on the accumulation of punctate immunostaining signals for Bassoon and vesicular glutamate transporter 1 in GC axons. However, tetramerized GluR?2-NTD stimulated the accumulation of these presynaptic proteins in the axons. Analysis of Cbln1 mutants suggested that the binding sites of GluR?2 and NRXN1? on Cbln1 are differential. Furthermore, there was no competition in the binding to Cbln1 between GluR?2-NTD and the extracellular domain (ECD) of NRXN1?. Thus, GluR?2 and Cbln1 interacted with each other rather independently of Cbln1-NRXN1? interaction and vice versa. Gel filtration and isothermal titration calorimetry analyses consistently showed that dimeric GluR?2-NTD and hexameric Cbln1 assembled in the 1:1 ratio, whereas hexameric Cbln1 and the laminin-neurexin-sex hormone-binding globulin domain of NRXN1?-ECD assembled in the 1:2 ratio. Thus, the synaptogenic triad is assembled from tetrameric GluR?2, hexameric Cbln1, and monomeric NRXN in the ratio of 1:2:4. These results suggest that GluR?2 triggers synapse formation by clustering four NRXNs through triad formation.
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.
Project description:Neurexins (NRXNs) are presynaptic terminal proteins and candidate neurodevelopmental disorder susceptibility genes; mutations presumably upset synaptic stabilization and function. However, analysis of human cortical tissue samples by RNAseq and quantitative real-time PCR at 8-12 postconceptional weeks, prior to extensive synapse formation, showed expression of all three NRXNs as well as several potential binding partners. However, the levels of expression were not identical; NRXN1 increased with age and NRXN2 levels were consistently higher than for NRXN3. Immunohistochemistry for each NRXN also revealed different expression patterns at this stage of development. NRXN1 and NRXN3 immunoreactivity was generally strongest in the cortical plate and increased in the ventricular zone with age, but was weak in the synaptogenic presubplate (pSP) and marginal zone. On the other hand, NRXN2 colocalized with synaptophysin in neurites of the pSP, but especially with GAP43 and CASK in growing axons of the intermediate zone. Alternative splicing modifies the role of NRXNs and we found evidence by RNAseq for exon skipping at splice site 4 and concomitant expression of KHDBRS proteins which control this splicing. NRXN2 may play a part in early cortical synaptogenesis, but NRXNs could have diverse roles in development including axon guidance, and intercellular communication between proliferating cells and/or migrating neurons.