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J Neurosci. 2005 Aug 17;25(33):7517-28.

The two isoforms of the Caenorhabditis elegans leukocyte-common antigen related receptor tyrosine phosphatase PTP-3 function independently in axon guidance and synapse formation.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.


Leukocyte-common antigen related (LAR)-like phosphatase receptors are conserved cell adhesion molecules that function in multiple developmental processes. The Caenorhabditis elegans ptp-3 gene encodes two LAR family isoforms that differ in the extracellular domain. We show here that the long isoform, PTP-3A, localizes specifically at synapses and that the short isoform, PTP-3B, is extrasynaptic. Mutations in ptp-3 cause defects in axon guidance that can be rescued by PTP-3B but not by PTP-3A. Mutations that specifically affect ptp-3A do not affect axon guidance but instead cause alterations in synapse morphology. Genetic double-mutant analysis is consistent with ptp-3A acting with the extracellular matrix component nidogen, nid-1, and the intracellular adaptor alpha-liprin, syd-2. nid-1 and syd-2 are required for the recruitment and stability of PTP-3A at synapses, and mutations in ptp-3 or nid-1 result in aberrant localization of SYD-2. Overexpression of PTP-3A is able to bypass the requirement for nid-1 for the localization of SYD-2 and RIM. We propose that PTP-3A acts as a molecular link between the extracellular matrix and alpha-liprin during synaptogenesis.

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