{delta}-catenin regulates spine architecture via cadherin and PDZ dependent interactions [Cell Biology]

February 27th, 2015 by Yuan, L., Seong, E., Beuscher, J. L., Arikkath, J.

The ability of neurons to maintain spine architecture and modulate it in response to synaptic activity is a crucial component of the cellular machinery that underlies information storage in pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus. Here we show a critical role for δ−catenin, a component of the cadherin-catenin cell adhesion complex, in regulating spine head width and length in pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus. The loss of CTNND2, the gene encoding δ−catenin, has been associated with the intellectual disability observed in the Cri du chat syndrome, suggesting that the functional roles of δ−catenin are vital for neuronal integrity and higher order functions. We demonstrate that loss of δ−catenin in a mouse model or knockdown of δ−catenin in pyramidal neurons compromises spine head width and length, without altering spine dynamics. This is accompanied by a reduction in the levels of synaptic N-cadherin. The ability of δ−catenin to modulate spine architecture is critically dependent on its ability to interact with cadherin and PDZ domain containing proteins. We propose that loss of δ−catenin during development perturbs synaptic architecture leading to developmental aberrations in neural circuit formation that contribute to the learning disabilities in a mouse model and humans with the Cri du chat syndrome.