Delta-catenin is required for the maintenance of neural structure and function in mature cortex in vivo

Neuron. 2009 Nov 12;64(3):320-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.09.026.


Delta-catenin is a brain-specific member of the adherens junction complex that localizes to the postsynaptic and dendritic compartments. This protein is likely critical for normal cognitive function; its hemizygous loss is linked to the severe mental retardation syndrome Cri-du-Chat and it directly interacts with presenilin-1 (PS1), the protein most frequently mutated in familial Alzheimer's disease. Here we examine dendritic structure and cortical function in vivo in mice lacking delta-catenin. We find that in cerebral cortex of 5-week-old mice, dendritic complexity, spine density, and cortical responsiveness are similar between mutant and littermate controls; thereafter, mutant mice experience progressive dendritic retraction, a reduction in spine density and stability, and concomitant reductions in cortical responsiveness. Our results indicate that delta-catenin regulates the maintenance of dendrites and dendritic spines in mature cortex but does not appear to be necessary for the initial establishment of these structures during development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Size
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Delta Catenin
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microelectrodes
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / physiology


  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Phosphoproteins
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Delta Catenin