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Cereb Cortex. 2011 Oct;21(10):2217-32. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq283. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

NCAM/spectrin complex disassembly results in PSD perforation and postsynaptic endocytic zone formation.

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Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie, Universitätskrankenhaus Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.


Mechanisms inducing perforation of the postsynaptic density (PSD) are poorly understood. We show that neural cell adhesion molecule- deficient (NCAM-/-) hippocampal neurons have an abnormally high percentage of synapses with perforated PSDs. The percentage of synapses with perforated PSDs is also increased in wild-type (NCAM+/+) neurons after the disruption of the NCAM/spectrin complex indicating that the NCAM-assembled spectrin cytoskeleton maintains the structural integrity of PSDs. We demonstrate that PSD perforations contain endocytic zones involved in α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) internalization. Induction of long-term potentiation in NCAM+/+ neurons accompanied by insertion of AMPAR into the neuronal cell surface is subsequently followed by formation of perforated synapses and AMPAR endocytosis suggesting that perforation of PSDs is important for membrane homeostasis in activated synapses. In NCAM-/- or NCAM+/+ neurons with dissociated spectrin meshwork, AMPAR endocytosis is enhanced under conditions of basal activity. An abnormally high rate of postsynaptic membrane endocytosis may thus contribute to brain pathologies associated with mutations in NCAM or spectrin.

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