Molecular Dissection of Neuroligin 2 and Slitrk3 Reveals an Essential Framework for GABAergic Synapse Development

Neuron. 2017 Nov 15;96(4):808-826.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


In the brain, many types of interneurons make functionally diverse inhibitory synapses onto principal neurons. Although numerous molecules have been identified to function in inhibitory synapse development, it remains unknown whether there is a unifying mechanism for development of diverse inhibitory synapses. Here we report a general molecular mechanism underlying hippocampal inhibitory synapse development. In developing neurons, the establishment of GABAergic transmission depends on Neuroligin 2 (NL2), a synaptic cell adhesion molecule (CAM). During maturation, inhibitory synapse development requires both NL2 and Slitrk3 (ST3), another CAM. Importantly, NL2 and ST3 interact with nanomolar affinity through their extracellular domains to synergistically promote synapse development. Selective perturbation of the NL2-ST3 interaction impairs inhibitory synapse development with consequent disruptions in hippocampal network activity and increased seizure susceptibility. Our findings reveal how unique postsynaptic CAMs work in concert to control synaptogenesis and establish a general framework for GABAergic synapse development.

Keywords: GABA; GABAergic synapse; Neuroligin 2; Slitrk3; cell adhesion molecule; collybistin; development; gamma oscillation; gephyrin; seizure.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Slitrk5 protein, mouse
  • neuroligin 2