Neuroligins are postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules that bind presynaptic neurexins and are genetically linked to autism. Neuroligins are proposed to organize synaptogenesis and/or synaptic transmission, but no systematic analysis of neuroligins in a defined circuit is available. Here, we show that conditional deletion of all neuroligins in cerebellar Purkinje cells caused loss of distal climbing-fiber synapses and weakened climbing-fiber but not parallel-fiber synapses, consistent with alternative use of neuroligins and cerebellins as neurexin ligands for the excitatory climbing-fiber versus parallel-fiber synapses. Moreover, deletion of neuroligins increased the size of inhibitory basket/stellate-cell synapses but simultaneously severely impaired their function. Multiple neuroligin isoforms differentially contributed to climbing-fiber and basket/stellate-cell synapse functions, such that inhibitory synapse-specific neuroligin-2 was unexpectedly essential for maintaining normal climbing-fiber synapse numbers. Using systematic analyses of all neuroligins in a defined neural circuit, our data thus show that neuroligins differentially contribute to various Purkinje-cell synapses in the cerebellum in vivo.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.