Neuroligin-3 is a neuronal adhesion protein at GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses

Authors

  • Elaine C. Budreck,

    1. Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street, P&S 11-511, New York, NY 10032, USA
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  • Peter Scheiffele

    1. Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street, P&S 11-511, New York, NY 10032, USA
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Dr P. Scheiffele, as above.
E-mail: ps2018@columbia.edu

Abstract

Synaptic adhesion molecules are thought to play a critical role in the formation, function and plasticity of neuronal networks. Neuroligins (NL1–4) are a family of presumptive postsynaptic cell adhesion molecules. NL1 and NL2 isoforms are concentrated at glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses, respectively, but the cellular expression and synaptic localization of the endogenous NL3 and NL4 isoforms are unknown. We generated a panel of NL isoform-specific antibodies and examined the expression, developmental regulation and synaptic specificity of NL3. We found that NL3 was enriched in brain, where NL3 protein levels increased during postnatal development, coinciding with the peak of synaptogenesis. Subcellular fractionation revealed a concentration of NL3 in synaptic plasma membranes and postsynaptic densities. In cultured hippocampal neurons, endogenous NL3 was highly expressed and was localized at both glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. Clustering of NL3 in hippocampal neurons by neurexin-expressing cells resulted in coaggregation of NL3 with glutamatergic and GABAergic scaffolding proteins. Finally, individual synapses contained colocalized NL2 and NL3 proteins, and coimmunoprecipitation studies revealed the presence of NL1–NL3 and NL2–NL3 complexes in brain extracts. These findings suggest that rodent NL3 is a synaptic adhesion molecule that is a shared component of glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses.

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