Membrane-Tethered Monomeric Neurexin LNS-Domain Triggers Synapse Formation
Gokce, O., Südhof, T.C.
Neurexins are presynaptic cell-adhesion molecules that bind to postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules such as neuroligins and leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs). When neuroligins or LRRTMs are expressed in a nonneuronal cell, cocultured neurons avidly form heterologous synapses onto that cell. Here we show that knockdown of all neurexins in cultured hippocampal mouse neurons did not impair synapse formation between neurons, but blocked heterologous synapse formation induced by neuroligin-1 or LRRTM2. Rescue experiments demonstrated that all neurexins tested restored heterologous synapse formation in neurexin-deficient neurons. Neurexin-deficient neurons exhibited a decrease in the levels of the PDZ-domain protein CASK (a calcium/calmodulin-activated serine/threonine kinase), which binds to neurexins, and mutation of the PDZ-domain binding sequence of neurexin-3β blocked its transport to the neuronal surface and impaired heterologous synapse formation. However, replacement of the C-terminal neurexin sequence with an unrelated PDZ-domain binding sequence that does not bind to CASK fully restored surface transport and heterologous synapse formation in neurexin-deficient neurons, suggesting that no particular PDZ-domain protein is essential for neurexin surface transport or heterologous synapse formation. Further mutagenesis revealed, moreover, that the entire neurexin cytoplasmic tail was dispensable for heterologous synapse formation in neurexin-deficient neurons, as long as the neurexin protein was transported to the neuronal cell surface. Furthermore, the single LNS-domain (for laminin/neurexin/sex hormone-binding globulin-domain) of neurexin-1β or neurexin-3β, when tethered to the presynaptic plasma membrane by a glycosylinositolphosphate anchor, was sufficient for rescuing heterologous synapse formation in neurexin-deficient neurons. Our data suggest that neurexins mediate heterologous synapse formation via an extracellular interaction with presynaptic and postsynaptic ligands without the need for signal transduction by the neurexin cytoplasmic tail.
Gokce, O., Südhof, T.C. "Membrane-Tethered Monomeric Neurexin LNS-Domain Triggers Synapse Formation" Journal of Neuroscience (2013): 14,617–28