N-glycosylation at the SynCAM (Synaptic Cell Adhesion Molecule) immunoglobulin interface modulates synaptic adhesion

Adam I. Fogel, Yue Li, Joanna Giza, Qing Wang, Tu Kiet T. Lam, Yorgo Modis, Thomas Biederer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Select adhesion molecules connect pre- and postsynaptic membranes and organize developing synapses. The regulation of these trans-synaptic interactions is an important neurobiological question. We have previously shown that the synaptic cell adhesion molecules (SynCAMs) 1 and 2 engage in homoand heterophilic interactions and bridge the synaptic cleft to induce presynaptic terminals. Here, we demonstrate that site-specific N-glycosylation impacts the structure and function of adhesive SynCAM interactions. Through crystallographic analysis of SynCAM 2, we identified within the adhesive interface of its Ig1 domain an N-glycan on residue Asn60. Structural modeling of the corresponding SynCAM 1 Ig1 domain indicates that its glycosylation sites Asn70/Asn104 flank the binding interface of this domain. Mass spectrometric and mutational studies confirm and characterize the modification of these three sites. These site-specificN-glycans affect SynCAM adhesion yet act in a differential manner. Although glycosylation of SynCAM 2 at Asn60 reduces adhesion, N-glycans at Asn70/Asn104 of SynCAM 1 increase its interactions. The modification of SynCAM 1 with sialic acids contributes to the glycan-dependent strengthening of its binding. Functionally, N-glycosylation promotes the transsynaptic interactions of SynCAM 1 and is required for synapse induction. These results demonstrate that N-glycosylation of SynCAM proteins differentially affects their binding interface and implicate post-translational modification as a mechanism to regulate trans-synaptic adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34864-34874
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 5 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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