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Cell. 1995 May 5;81(3):435-43.

Neuroligin 1: a splice site-specific ligand for beta-neurexins.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 75235, USA.


Neurexins are neuronal cell surface proteins with hundreds of isoforms generated by alternative splicing. Here we describe neuroligin 1, a neuronal cell surface protein that is enriched in synaptic plasma membranes and acts as a splice site-specific ligand for beta-neurexins. Neuroligin 1 binds to beta-neurexins only if they lack an insert in the alternatively spliced sequence of the G domain, but not if they contain an insert. The extracellular sequence of neuroligin 1 is composed of a catalytically inactive esterase domain homologous to acetylcholinesterase. In situ hybridization reveals that alternative splicing of neurexins at the site recognized by neuroligin 1 is highly regulated. These findings support a model whereby alternative splicing of neurexins creates a family of cell surface receptors that confers interactive specificity onto their resident neurons.

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