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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jun 5;284(23):15857-66. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M808986200. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

Wnt-5a/JNK signaling promotes the clustering of PSD-95 in hippocampal neurons.

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  • 1Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración, Centro de Regulación Celular y Patología Joaquín V. Luco, Instituto Milenio, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Alameda 340, P.O. Box 8331150, Santiago, Chile.


During the formation of synapses, specific regions of pre- and postsynaptic cells associate to form a single functional transmission unit. In this process, synaptogenic factors are necessary to modulate pre- and postsynaptic differentiation. In mammals, different Wnt ligands operate through canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways, and their precise functions to coordinate synapse structure and function in the mature central nervous system are still largely unknown. Here, we studied the effect of different Wnt ligands on postsynaptic organization. We found that Wnt-5a induces short term changes in the clustering of PSD-95, without affecting its total levels. Wnt-5a promotes the recruitment of PSD-95 from a diffuse dendritic cytoplasmic pool to form new PSD-95 clusters in dendritic spines. Moreover, Wnt-5a acting as a non-canonical ligand regulates PSD-95 distribution through a JNK-dependent signaling pathway, as demonstrated by using the TAT-TI-JIP peptide in mature hippocampal neurons. Finally, using adult rat hippocampal slices, we found that Wnt-5a modulates glutamatergic synaptic transmission through a postsynaptic mechanism. Our studies indicate that the Wnt-5a/JNK pathway modulates the postsynaptic region of mammalian synapse directing the clustering and distribution of the physiologically relevant scaffold protein, PSD-95.

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