All Publications


  • Neuroligin-4 Regulates Excitatory Synaptic Transmission in Human Neurons. Neuron Marro, S. G., Chanda, S., Yang, N., Janas, J. A., Valperga, G., Trotter, J., Zhou, B., Merrill, S., Yousif, I., Shelby, H., Vogel, H., Kalani, M. Y., Sudhof, T. C., Wernig, M. 2019

    Abstract

    The autism-associated synaptic-adhesion gene Neuroligin-4 (NLGN4) is poorly conserved evolutionarily, limiting conclusions from Nlgn4 mouse models for human cells. Here, we show that the cellular and subcellular expression of human and murine Neuroligin-4 differ, with human Neuroligin-4 primarily expressed in cerebral cortex and localized to excitatory synapses. Overexpression of NLGN4 in human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons resulted in an increase in excitatory synapse numbers but a remarkable decrease in synaptic strength. Human neurons carrying the syndromic autism mutation NLGN4-R704C also formed more excitatory synapses but with increased functional synaptic transmission due to a postsynaptic mechanism, while genetic loss of NLGN4 did not significantly affect synapses in the human neurons analyzed. Thus, the NLGN4-R704C mutation represents a change-of-function mutation. Our work reveals contrasting roles of NLGN4 in human and mouse neurons, suggesting that human evolution has impacted even fundamental cell biological processes generally assumed to be highly conserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.05.043

    View details for PubMedID 31257103

  • gamma-Neurexin and Frizzled Mediate Parallel Synapse Assembly Pathways Antagonized by Receptor Endocytosis. Neuron Kurshan, P. T., Merrill, S. A., Dong, Y., Ding, C., Hammarlund, M., Bai, J., Jorgensen, E. M., Shen, K. 2018

    Abstract

    Synapse formation defines neuronal connectivity and is thus essential for neuronal circuit assembly. Trans-synaptic interactions of cell adhesion molecules are thought to induce synapse assembly. Here we demonstrate that a recently discovered and conserved short form of neurexin, gamma-neurexin, which lacks canonical extracellular domains, is nonetheless sufficient to promote presynaptic assembly in the nematode C.elegans. gamma- but not alpha-neurexin is required for assembling active zone components, recruiting synaptic vesicles, and clustering calcium channels at release sites to promote evoked synaptic transmission. Furthermore, we find that neurexin functions in parallel with the transmembrane receptor Frizzled, as the absence of both proteins leads to an enhanced phenotype-the loss of most synapses. Frizzled's pro-synaptogenic function is independent of its ligand, Wnt. Wnt binding instead eliminates synapses by inducing Frizzled's endocytosis and the downregulation of neurexin. These results reveal how pro- and anti-synaptogenic factors converge to precisely sculpt circuit formation invivo.

    View details for PubMedID 30269993

  • Two Clathrin Adaptor Protein Complexes Instruct Axon-Dendrite Polarity NEURON Li, P., Merrill, S. A., Jorgensen, E. M., Shen, K. 2016; 90 (3): 564-580

    Abstract

    The cardinal feature of neuronal polarization is the establishment and maintenance of axons and dendrites. How axonal and dendritic proteins are sorted and targeted to different compartments is poorly understood. Here, we identified distinct dileucine motifs that are necessary and sufficient to target transmembrane proteins to either the axon or the dendrite through direct interactions with the clathrin-associated adaptor protein complexes (APs) in C. elegans. Axonal targeting requires AP-3, while dendritic targeting is mediated by AP-1. The axonal dileucine motif binds to AP-3 with higher efficiency than to AP-1. Both AP-3 and AP-1 are localized to the Golgi but occupy adjacent domains. We propose that AP-3 and AP-1 directly select transmembrane proteins and target them to axon and dendrite, respectively, by sorting them into distinct vesicle pools.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.04.020

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376254500016

    View details for PubMedID 27151641