Neurexins are considered central organizers of synapse architecture that are implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders. Expression of neurexins in hundreds of alternatively spliced isoforms suggested that individual neurons might exhibit a cell-type-specific neurexin expression pattern (a neurexin code). To test this hypothesis, we quantified the single-cell levels of neurexin isoforms and other trans-synaptic cell-adhesion molecules by microfluidics-based RT-PCR. We show that the neurexin repertoire displays pronounced cell-type specificity that is remarkably consistent within each type of neuron. Furthermore, we uncovered region-specific regulation of neurexin transcription and splice-site usage. Finally, we demonstrate that the transcriptional profiles of neurexins can be altered in an experience-dependent fashion by exposure to a drug of abuse. Our data provide evidence of cell-type-specific expression patterns of multiple neurexins at the single-cell level and suggest that expression of synaptic cell-adhesion molecules overlaps with other key features of cellular identity and diversity.
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