Presynaptic LRP4 promotes synapse number and function of excitatory CNS neurons

Elife. 2017 Jun 13:6:e27347. doi: 10.7554/eLife.27347.


Precise coordination of synaptic connections ensures proper information flow within circuits. The activity of presynaptic organizing molecules signaling to downstream pathways is essential for such coordination, though such entities remain incompletely known. We show that LRP4, a conserved transmembrane protein known for its postsynaptic roles, functions presynaptically as an organizing molecule. In the Drosophila brain, LRP4 localizes to the nerve terminals at or near active zones. Loss of presynaptic LRP4 reduces excitatory (not inhibitory) synapse number, impairs active zone architecture, and abolishes olfactory attraction - the latter of which can be suppressed by reducing presynaptic GABAB receptors. LRP4 overexpression increases synapse number in excitatory and inhibitory neurons, suggesting an instructive role and a common downstream synapse addition pathway. Mechanistically, LRP4 functions via the conserved kinase SRPK79D to ensure normal synapse number and behavior. This highlights a presynaptic function for LRP4, enabling deeper understanding of how synapse organization is coordinated.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; lrp4; neuroscience; olfactory; presynaptic; receptors; synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Receptors, Presynaptic / metabolism*


  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins
  • Receptors, Presynaptic