Novel interactive partners of neuroligin 3: new aspects for pathogenesis of autism

J Mol Neurosci. 2015 May;56(1):89-101. doi: 10.1007/s12031-014-0470-9. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a strong genetic predisposition. Neurolign 3 (NLGN3) as a postsynaptic transmembrane protein, functions in both neuron synaptogenesis and glia-neuron communications. Previously, a gain of function mutation (R451C) in NLGN3 was identified in autistic patients, which illustrates the involvement of NLGN3 in autism pathogenesis. As proper synaptic targeting and functioning are controlled by intracellular protein interactions, in the current study, we tried to discover the intracellular regulation network in which NLGN3 might be involved by a yeast two-hybrid-based interactor identification. Fifty-one protein candidate partners were identified after screening a human fetal complementary DNA (cDNA) library with an intracellular fragment of NLGN3. The interactions of NLGN3 with a subset of candidates, including EEF1A1, FLNA, ITPRIP, CYP11A1, MT-CO2, GPR175, ACOT2, and QPRT, were further validated in human neuroblastoma cells or brain tissues. Furthermore, our study suggested that NLGN3 was functioning in cytosolic calcium balance and participating in calcium-regulated cellular processes. Our findings of novel NLGN3 binding partners provide evidences of involvement of NLGN3 in multiple biological pathways, especially calcium regulating and mitochondrial function, thus suggesting further significance. This new data not only leads to a better understanding of the physiological functions of NLGN3, but also provide new aspects for pathogenesis of autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • neuroligin 3
  • Calcium