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Neuroscience. 2010 Feb 3;165(3):782-93. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.11.016. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

Postsynaptic scaffolding molecules modulate the localization of neuroligins.

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Department of Psychiatry, Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research, University of British Columbia, 2255 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Previous work has shown an important role for neuroligins in promoting the formation of synaptic connections in cultured cells. Although neuroligins enhance both excitatory and inhibitory synapse formation, individual neuroligin isoforms have been shown to preferentially localize to either glutamatergic or GABAergic synapses. Current evidence points to an important role for both the extracellular and intracellular domains of neuroligins in their synaptic localization. Although postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95) has been shown to be involved in the recruitment of neuroligin 1 to excitatory synapses, the localization of neuroligin 2 (NL2) and neuroligin 3 (NL3) to excitatory and inhibitory synapses is less well defined. We assessed the roles of gephyrin and PSD-95, postsynaptic scaffolding molecules exclusively localized to inhibitory and excitatory synapses, respectively, in localizing NL2 and NL3 in primary neuronal cultures. We demonstrate that knockdown of gephyrin results in a significant shift of NL2 from inhibitory to excitatory synaptic contacts, while knockdown of PSD-95 leads to a partial shift of NL2 and NL3 from excitatory to inhibitory contacts. Furthermore, analysis of specific domain deletions within the C-terminal, intracellular domain of NL2 reveals that the region between amino acids 716 and 782 is required for the normal synaptic clustering of this protein. Together, these data suggest that intracellular mechanisms are involved in the targeting of different neuroligin family members to synapses (216).

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