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J Comp Neurol. 2012 Jun 15;520(9):2041-52. doi: 10.1002/cne.23027.

Compensatory redistribution of neuroligins and N-cadherin following deletion of synaptic β1-integrin.

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Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.


β1-containing integrins are required for persistent synaptic potentiation in hippocampus and regulate hippocampal-dependent learning. Based largely on indirect evidence, there is a prevailing assumption that β1-integrins are localized at synapses, where they contribute to synapse adhesion and signaling, but this has not been examined directly. Here we investigate the fine localization of β1-integrin in adult mouse hippocampus using high-resolution immunogold labeling, with a particular emphasis on synaptic labeling patterns. We find that β1-integrins localize to synapses in CA1 and are concentrated postsynaptically. At the postsynaptic membrane, β1-integrins are found more commonly clustered near active zone centers rather than at the peripheral edges. In mice harboring a conditional deletion of β1-integrins, labeling for N-cadherin and neuroligins increases. Western blots show increased levels of N-cadherin in total lysates and neuroligins increase selectively in synaptosomes. These data suggest there is a dynamic, compensatory adjustment of synaptic adhesion. Such adjustment is specific only for certain cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), because labeling for SynCAM is unchanged. Together, our findings demonstrate unequivocally that β1-integrin is an integral synaptic adhesion protein, and suggest that adhesive function at the synapse reflects a cooperative and dynamic network of multiple CAM families.

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