Despite considerable evidence for a critical role of neuroligin-1 in the specification of excitatory synapses, the cellular mechanisms and physiological roles of neuroligin-1 in mature neural circuits are poorly understood. In mutant mice deficient in neuroligin-1, or adult rats in which neuroligin-1 was depleted, we have found that neuroligin-1 stabilizes the NMDA receptors residing in the post-synaptic membrane of amygdala principal neurons, which allows for a normal range of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission. We observed marked decreases in NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic currents at afferent inputs to the amygdala of neuroligin-1 knockout mice. However, the knockout mice exhibited a significant impairment in spike-timing-dependent long-term potentiation (STD-LTP) at the thalamic but not the cortical inputs to the amygdala. Subsequent electrophysiological analyses indicated that STD-LTP in the cortical pathway is largely independent of activation of postsynaptic NMDA receptors. These findings suggest that neuroligin-1 can modulate, in a pathway-specific manner, synaptic plasticity in the amygdala circuits of adult animals, likely by regulating the abundance of postsynaptic NMDA receptors.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Mar 9 2010|
- Cortical pathway
- Thalamic pathway
ASJC Scopus subject areas