Alternative splicing of latrophilin-3 controls synapse formation

Nature. 2024 Feb;626(7997):128-135. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-06913-9. Epub 2024 Jan 17.


The assembly and specification of synapses in the brain is incompletely understood1-3. Latrophilin-3 (encoded by Adgrl3, also known as Lphn3)-a postsynaptic adhesion G-protein-coupled receptor-mediates synapse formation in the hippocampus4 but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here we show in mice that LPHN3 organizes synapses through a convergent dual-pathway mechanism: activation of Gαs signalling and recruitment of phase-separated postsynaptic protein scaffolds. We found that cell-type-specific alternative splicing of Lphn3 controls the LPHN3 G-protein-coupling mode, resulting in LPHN3 variants that predominantly signal through Gαs or Gα12/13. CRISPR-mediated manipulation of Lphn3 alternative splicing that shifts LPHN3 from a Gαs- to a Gα12/13-coupled mode impaired synaptic connectivity as severely as the overall deletion of Lphn3, suggesting that Gαs signalling by LPHN3 splice variants mediates synapse formation. Notably, Gαs-coupled, but not Gα12/13-coupled, splice variants of LPHN3 also recruit phase-transitioned postsynaptic protein scaffold condensates, such that these condensates are clustered by binding of presynaptic teneurin and FLRT ligands to LPHN3. Moreover, neuronal activity promotes alternative splicing of the synaptogenic Gαs-coupled variant of LPHN3. Together, these data suggest that activity-dependent alternative splicing of a key synaptic adhesion molecule controls synapse formation by parallel activation of two convergent pathways: Gαs signalling and clustered phase separation of postsynaptic protein scaffolds.

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing* / genetics
  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, G12-G13
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / deficiency
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Peptide* / deficiency
  • Receptors, Peptide* / genetics
  • Receptors, Peptide* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses* / metabolism


  • alpha-latrotoxin receptor
  • Gnas protein, mouse
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, G12-G13
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs
  • Ligands
  • LPHN3 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • teneurin-1