Release activity-dependent control of vesicle endocytosis by the synaptic adhesion molecule N-cadherin

Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 20:7:40865. doi: 10.1038/srep40865.


At synapses in the mammalian brain, continuous information transfer requires the long-term maintenance of homeostatic coupling between exo- and endocytosis of synaptic vesicles. Because classical endocytosis is orders of magnitude slower than the millisecond-range exocytosis of vesicles, high frequency vesicle fusion could potentially compromise structural stability of synapses. However, the molecular mechanisms mediating the tight coupling of exo- and endocytosis are largely unknown. Here, we investigated the role of the transsynaptic adhesion molecules N-cadherin and Neuroligin1 in regulating vesicle exo- and endocytosis by using activity-induced FM4-64 staining and by using synaptophysin-pHluorin fluorescence imaging. The synaptic adhesion molecules N-cadherin and Neuroligin1 had distinct impacts on exo- and endocytosis at mature cortical synapses. Expression of Neuroligin1 enhanced vesicle release in a N-cadherin-dependent way. Most intriguingly, expression of N-cadherin enhanced both vesicle exo- and endocytosis. Further detailed analysis of N-cadherin knockout neurons revealed that the boosting of endocytosis by N-cadherin was largely dependent on preceding high levels of vesicle release activity. In summary, regulation of vesicle endocytosis was mediated at the molecular level by N-cadherin in a release activity-dependent manner. Because of its endocytosis enhancing function, N-cadherin might play an important role in the coupling of vesicle exo- and endocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cadherins / deficiency
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endocytosis*
  • Exocytosis
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Cadherins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • neuroligin 1