Synaptic remodeling has been postulated as a mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity, and cadherin adhesion molecules are thought to be a regulator of such a process. We examined the effects of cadherin blockage on synaptogenesis in cultured hippocampal neurons. This blockade resulted in alterations of dendritic spine morphology, such as filopodia-like elongation of the spine and bifurcation of its head structure, along with concomitant disruption of the distribution of postsynaptic proteins. The accumulation of synapsin at presynaptic sites and synaptic vesicle recycling were also perturbed, although these synaptic responses to the cadherin blockade became less evident upon the maturation of the synapses. These findings suggest that cadherin regulates dendritic spine morphogenesis and related synaptic functions, presumably cooperating with cadherin-independent adhesive mechanisms to maintain spine-axon contacts.
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