Transsynaptic N-Cadherin Adhesion Complexes Control Presynaptic Vesicle and Bulk Endocytosis at Physiological Temperature

Front Cell Neurosci. 2021 Oct 7;15:713693. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2021.713693. eCollection 2021.


At mammalian glutamatergic synapses, most basic elements of synaptic transmission have been shown to be modulated by specific transsynaptic adhesion complexes. However, although crucial for synapse homeostasis, a physiological regulation of synaptic vesicle endocytosis by adhesion molecules has not been firmly established. The homophilic adhesion protein N-cadherin is localized at the peri-active zone, where the highly temperature-dependent endocytosis of vesicles occurs. Here, we demonstrate an important modulatory role of N-cadherin in endocytosis at near physiological temperature by synaptophysin-pHluorin imaging. Different modes of endocytosis including bulk endocytosis were dependent on N-cadherin expression and function. N-cadherin modulation might be mediated by actin filaments because actin polymerization ameliorated the knockout-induced endocytosis defect. Using super-resolution imaging, we found strong recruitment of N-cadherin to glutamatergic synapses upon massive vesicle release, which might in turn enhance vesicle endocytosis. This provides a novel, adhesion protein-mediated mechanism for efficient coupling of exo- and endocytosis.

Keywords: N-cadherin; actin filaments; bulk endocytosis; peri-active zone; physiological temperature; synaptic vesicle endocytosis.