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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 4;108(40):16502-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1114028108. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

The neurexin ligands, neuroligins and leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins, perform convergent and divergent synaptic functions in vivo.

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  • 1Nancy Pritzker Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5453, USA.


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.

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