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Development. 2010 Jul;137(13):2215-25. doi: 10.1242/dev.046722.

Frizzled-5, a receptor for the synaptic organizer Wnt7a, regulates activity-mediated synaptogenesis.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London WC1E6BT, UK.


Wnt proteins play a crucial role in several aspects of neuronal circuit formation. Wnts can signal through different receptors including Frizzled, Ryk and Ror2. In the hippocampus, Wnt7a stimulates the formation of synapses; however, its receptor remains poorly characterized. Here, we demonstrate that Frizzled-5 (Fz5) is expressed during the peak of synaptogenesis in the mouse hippocampus. Fz5 is present in synaptosomes and colocalizes with the pre- and postsynaptic markers vGlut1 and PSD-95. Expression of Fz5 during early stages of synaptogenesis increases the number of presynaptic sites in hippocampal neurons. Conversely, Fz5 knockdown or the soluble Fz5-CRD domain (Fz5CRD), which binds to Wnt7a, block the ability of Wnt7a to stimulate synaptogenesis. Increased neuronal activity induced by K+ depolarization or by high-frequency stimulation (HFS), known to induce synapse formation, raises the levels of Fz5 at the cell surface. Importantly, both stimuli increase the localization of Fz5 at synapses, an effect that is blocked by Wnt antagonists or Fz5CRD. Conversely, low-frequency stimulation, which reduces the number of synapses, decreases the levels of surface Fz5 and the percentage of synapses containing the receptor. Interestingly, Fz5CRD abolishes HFS-induced synapse formation. Our results indicate that Fz5 mediates the synaptogenic effect of Wnt7a and that its localization to synapses is regulated by neuronal activity, a process that depends on endogenous Wnts. These findings support a model where neuronal activity and Wnts increase the responsiveness of neurons to Wnt signalling by recruiting Fz5 receptor at synaptic sites.

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