A unique intracellular tyrosine in neuroligin-1 regulates AMPA receptor recruitment during synapse differentiation and potentiation

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 28;9(1):3979. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06220-2.


To better understand the molecular mechanisms by which early neuronal connections mature into synapses, we examined the impact of neuroligin-1 (Nlg1) phosphorylation on synapse differentiation, focusing on a unique intracellular tyrosine (Y782), which differentially regulates Nlg1 binding to PSD-95 and gephyrin. By expressing Nlg1 point mutants (Y782A/F) in hippocampal neurons, we show using imaging and electrophysiology that Y782 modulates the recruitment of functional AMPA receptors (AMPARs). Nlg1-Y782F impaired both dendritic spine formation and AMPAR diffusional trapping, but not NMDA receptor recruitment, revealing the assembly of silent synapses. Furthermore, replacing endogenous Nlg1 with either Nlg1-Y782A or -Y782F in CA1 hippocampal neurons impaired long-term potentiation (LTP), demonstrating a critical role of AMPAR synaptic retention. Screening of tyrosine kinases combined with pharmacological inhibitors point to Trk family members as major regulators of endogenous Nlg1 phosphorylation and synaptogenic function. Thus, Nlg1 tyrosine phosphorylation signaling is a critical event in excitatory synapse differentiation and LTP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Long-Term Potentiation / genetics
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Tyrosine / genetics
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • neuroligin 1
  • Tyrosine