Structural characterization of recombinant soluble rat neuroligin 1: mapping of secondary structure and glycosylation by mass spectrometry

Biochemistry. 2004 Feb 17;43(6):1496-506. doi: 10.1021/bi035278t.


Neuroligins (NLs) are a family of transmembrane proteins that function in synapse formation and/or remodeling by interacting with beta-neurexins (beta-NXs) to form heterophilic cell adhesions. The large N-terminal extracellular domain of NLs, required for beta-NX interactions, has sequence homology to the alpha/beta hydrolase fold superfamily of proteins. By peptide mapping and mass spectrometric analysis of a soluble recombinant form of NL1, several structural features of the extracellular domain have been established. Of the nine cysteine residues in NL1, eight are shown to form intramolecular disulfide bonds. Disulfide pairings of Cys 117 to Cys 153 and Cys 342 to Cys 353 are consistent with disulfide linkages that are conserved among the family of alpha/beta hydrolase proteins. The disulfide bond between Cys 172 and Cys 181 occurs within a region of the protein encoded by an alternatively spliced exon. The disulfide pairing of Cys 512 and Cys 546 in NL1 yields a structural motif unique to the NLs, since these residues are highly conserved. The potential N-glycosylation sequons in NL1 at Asn 109, Asn 303, Asn 343, and Asn 547 are shown occupied by carbohydrate. An additional consensus sequence for N-glycosylation at Asn 662 is likely occupied. Analysis of N-linked oligosaccharide content by mass matching paradigms reveals significant microheterogeneous populations of complex glycosyl moieties. In addition, O-linked glycosylation is observed in the predicted stalk region of NL1, prior to the transmembrane spanning domain. From predictions based on sequence homology of NL1 to acetylcholinesterase and the molecular features of NL1 established from mass spectrometric analysis, a novel topology model for NL three-dimensional structure has been constructed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Asparagine / chemistry
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Disulfides / chemistry
  • Extracellular Space / chemistry
  • Glycosylation
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mucins / chemistry
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Mapping* / methods
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Trypsin / chemistry


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Disulfides
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mucins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • neuroligin 1
  • Asparagine
  • Trypsin