Dynamics, nanoscale organization, and function of synaptic adhesion molecules

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2018 Sep:91:95-107. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2018.04.007. Epub 2018 Apr 17.


Synaptic adhesion molecules not only provide a physical link between pre- and post-synaptic membranes, but also contribute to synaptic differentiation and plasticity by organizing functional elements, in particular neurotransmitter receptors. The wealth of existing adhesive protein families including many isoforms and splice variants, calls for systematic identification of the levels and exchange rates of each of those protein members at specific synapse types. Complementary to electron microscopy to identify individual synaptic contacts and biochemistry to reveal protein-protein interactions, recent super-resolution light microscopy methods combined with appropriate fluorescent labeling provide a way to measure the dynamics and sub-micron organization of selective molecular components, and their inter-relations at the synapse. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the dynamics, nanoscale localization, and function of key synaptic adhesion complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Protein Transport
  • Single Molecule Imaging / methods*
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal