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Neuron. 1998 Jun;20(6):1165-75.

A role for the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules in hippocampal long-term potentiation.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125, USA.


The cadherins are a family of cell-cell adhesion molecules that mediate Ca2+-dependent homophilic interactions between cells and transduce signals by interacting with cytoplasmic proteins. In the hippocampus, immunostaining combined with confocal microscopy revealed that both neural- (N-) and epithelial- (E-) cadherin are present at synaptic sites, implying a role in synaptic function. Pretreatment of hippocampal slices with antibodies (Abs) raised against the extracellular domain of either N-cad or E-cad had no effect on basal synaptic properties but significantly reduced long-term potentiation (LTP). Infusion of antagonistic peptides containing the His-Ala-Val (HAV) consensus sequence for cadherin dimerization also attenuated LTP induction without affecting previously established LTP. Because the intense synaptic stimulation associated with LTP induction might transiently deplete extracellular Ca2+ and hence potentially destabilize cadherin-cadherin interactions, we examined whether slices could be protected from inhibition by N-cad Abs or HAV peptides by raising the extracellular Ca2+ concentration. Indeed, we found that high extracellular Ca2+ prevented the block of LTP by these agents. Taken together, these results indicate that cadherins are involved in synaptic plasticity, and the stability of cadherin-cadherin bonds may be regulated by synaptic stimulation.

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