A role for the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules in hippocampal long-term potentiation

Neuron. 1998 Jun;20(6):1165-75. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80497-3.


The cadherins are a family of cell-cell adhesion molecules that mediate Ca2+-dependent homophilic interactions between cells and transduce signals by interacting with cytoplasmic proteins. In the hippocampus, immunostaining combined with confocal microscopy revealed that both neural- (N-) and epithelial- (E-) cadherin are present at synaptic sites, implying a role in synaptic function. Pretreatment of hippocampal slices with antibodies (Abs) raised against the extracellular domain of either N-cad or E-cad had no effect on basal synaptic properties but significantly reduced long-term potentiation (LTP). Infusion of antagonistic peptides containing the His-Ala-Val (HAV) consensus sequence for cadherin dimerization also attenuated LTP induction without affecting previously established LTP. Because the intense synaptic stimulation associated with LTP induction might transiently deplete extracellular Ca2+ and hence potentially destabilize cadherin-cadherin interactions, we examined whether slices could be protected from inhibition by N-cad Abs or HAV peptides by raising the extracellular Ca2+ concentration. Indeed, we found that high extracellular Ca2+ prevented the block of LTP by these agents. Taken together, these results indicate that cadherins are involved in synaptic plasticity, and the stability of cadherin-cadherin bonds may be regulated by synaptic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Binding, Competitive / immunology
  • Cadherins / chemistry
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Chickens
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Hippocampus / chemistry*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Peptide Fragments / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synapses / chemistry
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Antibodies
  • Cadherins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Calcium