Differential control of presynaptic efficacy by postsynaptic N-cadherin and β-catenin.
Vitureira N, Letellier M, White IJ, Goda Y.
N-cadherin is a homophilic adhesion protein that remains expressed at mature excitatory synapses beyond its developmental role in synapse formation. We investigated the trans-synaptic activity of N-cadherin in regulating synapse function in rodent cultured hippocampal neurons using optical methods and electrophysiology. Interfering with N-cadherin in postsynaptic neurons reduced basal release probability (p(r)) at inputs to the neuron, and this trans-synaptic impairment of release accompanied impaired vesicle endocytosis. Moreover, loss of the GluA2 AMPA-type glutamate receptor subunit, which decreased p(r) by itself, occluded the interference with postsynaptic N-cadherin. The loss of postsynaptic N-cadherin activity, however, did not affect the compensatory upregulation of p(r) induced by chronic activity silencing, whereas postsynaptic β-catenin deletion blocked this presynaptic homeostatic adaptation. Our findings suggest that postsynaptic N-cadherin helps link basal pre- and postsynaptic strengths to control the p(r) offset, whereas the p(r) gain adjustment requires a distinct trans-synaptic pathway involving β-catenin.