N-cadherin relocalizes from the periphery to the center of the synapse after transient synaptic stimulation in hippocampal neurons

Patricia T. Yam, Zachary Pincus, Gagan D. Gupta, Mikhail Bashkurov, Frédéric Charron, Laurence Pelletier, David R. Colman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


N-cadherin is a cell adhesion molecule which is enriched at synapses. Binding of N-cadherin molecules to each other across the synaptic cleft has been postulated to stabilize adhesion between the presynaptic bouton and the postsynaptic terminal. N-cadherin is also required for activity-induced changes at synapses, including hippocampal long term potentiation and activity-induced spine expansion and stabilization. We hypothesized that these activity-dependent changes might involve changes in N-cadherin localization within synapses. To determine whether synaptic activity changes the localization of N-cadherin, we used structured illumination microscopy, a super-resolution approach which overcomes the conventional resolution limits of light microscopy, to visualize the localization of N-cadherin within synapses of hippocampal neurons. We found that synaptic N-cadherin exhibits a spectrum of localization patterns, ranging from puncta at the periphery of the synapse adjacent to the active zone to an even distribution along the synaptic cleft. Furthermore, the N-cadherin localization pattern within synapses changes during KCl depolarization and after transient synaptic stimulation. During KCl depolarization, N-cadherin relocalizes away from the central region of the synaptic cleft to the periphery of the synapse. In contrast, after transient synaptic stimulation with KCl followed by a period of rest in normal media, fewer synapses have N-cadherin present as puncta at the periphery and more synapses have N-cadherin present more centrally and uniformly along the synapse compared to unstimulated cells. This indicates that transient synaptic stimulation modulates N-cadherin localization within the synapse. These results bring new information to the structural organization and activity-induced changes occurring at synapses, and suggest that N-cadherin relocalization may contribute to activity dependent changes at synapses. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere79679
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'N-cadherin relocalizes from the periphery to the center of the synapse after transient synaptic stimulation in hippocampal neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this