Cadherins and synaptic plasticity

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2008 Oct;20(5):567-75. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Jul 19.


Given their trans-synaptic localization, their persistent expression at mature synapses and their distinct biochemical and adhesive properties, cadherins are uniquely poised at the synapse to mediate synaptic plasticity, the ability to change synaptic function thought to underlie learning and memory. For example recent work suggests that cadherins may recruit and stabilize AMPA receptors at the synapse via direct interactions or through complex formation, revealing cross talk between postsynaptic signaling and adhesion. Moreover, the use of small interfering RNA knockdown of cadherin, the availability of N-cadherin-deficient embryonic stem cells and the acute disruption of cadherin function with peptide application in vivo have allowed for more precise dissection of the molecular mechanisms by which cadherins function in both structural and functional plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / chemistry
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Cadherins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Calcium