Wnt signaling has a well-established role as a regulator of nervous system development, but its role in the maintenance and regulation of established synapses in the mature brain remains poorly understood. At excitatory glutamatergic synapses, NMDA receptors (NMDARs) have a fundamental role in synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and learning and memory; however, it is not known what controls their number and subunit composition. Here we show that the receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (RoR2) functions as a Wnt receptor required to maintain basal NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission. In addition, RoR2 activation by a noncanonical Wnt ligand activates PKC and JNK and acutely enhances NMDAR synaptic responses. Regulation of a key component of glutamatergic synapses through RoR2 provides a mechanism for Wnt signaling to modulate synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity, and brain function acutely beyond embryonic development.
Keywords: NMDA receptors; RoR2; Wnt signaling; glutamate receptors; synaptic transmission.