Neuroligin-1 regulates excitatory synaptic transmission, LTP and EPSP-spike coupling in the dentate gyrus in vivo.
Jedlicka P, Vnencak M, Krueger DD, Jungenitz T, Brose N, Schwarzacher SW.
Neuroligins are transmembrane cell adhesion proteins with a key role in the regulation of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Based on previous in vitro and ex vivo studies, neuroligin-1 (NL1) has been suggested to play a selective role in the function of glutamatergic synapses. However, the role of NL1 has not yet been investigated in the brain of live animals. We studied the effects of NL1-deficiency on synaptic transmission in the hippocampal dentate gyrus using field potential recordings evoked by perforant path stimulation in urethane-anesthetized NL1 knockout (KO) mice. We report that in NL1 KOs the activation of glutamatergic perforant path granule cell inputs resulted in reduced synaptic responses. In addition, NL1 KOs displayed impairment in long-term potentiation. Furthermore, field EPSP-population spike (E-S) coupling was greater in NL1 KO than WT mice and paired-pulse inhibition was reduced, indicating a compensatory rise of excitability in NL1 KO granule cells. Consistent with changes in excitatory transmission, NL1 KOs showed a significant reduction in hippocampal synaptosomal expression levels of the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 and NMDA receptor subunits GluN1, GluN2A and GluN2B. Taken together, we provide first evidence that NL1 is essential for normal excitatory transmission and long-term synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus of intact animals. Our data provide insights into synaptic and circuit mechanisms of neuropsychiatric abnormalities such as learning deficits and autism.