MDGAs are fast-diffusing molecules that delay excitatory synapse development by altering neuroligin behavior.
eLife. 2022-05-09; 11:
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MDGA molecules can bind neuroligins and interfere with trans-synaptic interactions to neurexins, thereby impairing synapse development. However, the subcellular localization and dynamics of MDGAs, or their specific action mode in neurons remain unclear. Here, surface immunostaining of endogenous MDGAs and single molecule tracking of recombinant MDGAs in dissociated hippocampal neurons reveal that MDGAs are homogeneously distributed and exhibit fast membrane diffusion, with a small reduction in mobility across neuronal maturation. Knocking-down/out MDGAs using shRNAs and CRISPR/Cas9 strategies increases the density of excitatory synapses, the membrane confinement of neuroligin-1, and the phosphotyrosine level of neuroligins associated with excitatory post-synaptic differentiation. Finally, MDGA silencing reduces the mobility of AMPA receptors, increases the frequency of miniature EPSCs (but not IPSCs), and selectively enhances evoked AMPA-receptor-mediated EPSCs in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Overall, our results support a mechanism by which interactions between MDGAs and neuroligin-1 delays the assembly of functional excitatory synapses containing AMPA receptors.