AMPA- and NMDA-type glutamate receptors mediate distinct postsynaptic signals that differ characteristically among synapses. How postsynaptic AMPA- and NMDA-receptor levels are regulated, however, remains unclear. Using newly generated conditional knockin mice that enable genetic control of neurexin alternative splicing, we show that in hippocampal synapses, alternative splicing of presynaptic neurexin-1 at splice site 4 (SS4) dramatically enhanced postsynaptic NMDA-receptor-mediated, but not AMPA-receptor-mediated, synaptic responses without altering synapse density. In contrast, alternative splicing of neurexin-3 at SS4 suppressed AMPA-receptor-mediated, but not NMDA-receptor-mediated, synaptic responses, while alternative splicing of neurexin-2 at SS4 had no effect on NMDA- or AMPA-receptor-mediated responses. Presynaptic overexpression of the neurexin-1β and neurexin-3β SS4+ splice variants, but not of their SS4- splice variants, replicated the respective SS4+ knockin phenotypes. Thus, different neurexins perform distinct nonoverlapping functions at hippocampal synapses that are independently regulated by alternative splicing. These functions transsynaptically control NMDA and AMPA receptors, thereby mediating presynaptic control of postsynaptic responses.
Keywords: AMPA receptor; NMDA receptor; alternative splicing; epigenetics; long-term potentiation; memory; neurexins; neuroligin; schizophrenia; subiculum; synapse formation; synaptic transmission.
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