Processing of the synaptic cell adhesion molecule neurexin-3beta by Alzheimer disease alpha- and gamma-secretases
Neurexins (NRXNs) are synaptic cell adhesion molecules having essential roles in the assembly and maturation of synapses into fully functional units. Immunocytochemical and electrophysiological studies have shown that specific binding across the synaptic cleft of the ectodomains of presynaptic NRXNs and postsynaptic neuroligins have the potential to bidirectionally coordinate and trigger synapse formation. Moreover, in vivo studies as well as genome-wide association studies pointed out implication of NRXNs in the pathogenesis of cognitive disorders including autism spectrum disorders and different types of addictions including opioid and alcohol dependences, suggesting an important role in synaptic function. Despite extensive investigations, the mechanisms by which NRXNs modulate the properties of synapses remain largely unknown. We report here that α- and γ-secretases can sequentially process NRXN3β, leading to the formation of two final products, an ∼80-kDa N-terminal extracellular domain of Neurexin-3β (sNRXN3β) and an ∼12-kDa C-terminal intracellular NRXN3β domain (NRXN3β-ICD), both of them being potentially implicated in the regulation of NRXNs and neuroligins functions at the synapses or in yet unidentified signal transduction pathways. We further report that this processing is altered by several PS1 mutations in the catalytic subunit of the γ-secretase that cause early-onset familial Alzheimer disease.