Reelin Regulates the Maturation of Dendritic Spines, Synaptogenesis and Glial Ensheathment of Newborn Granule Cells

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The Reelin pathway is essential for both neural migration and for the development and maturation of synaptic connections. However, its role in adult synaptic formation and remodeling is still being investigated. Here, we investigated the impact of the Reelin/Dab1 pathway on the synaptogenesis of newborn granule cells (GCs) in the young-adult mouse hippocampus. We show that neither Reelin overexpression nor the inactivation of its intracellular adapter, Dab1, substantially alters dendritic spine numbers in these neurons. In contrast, 3D-electron microscopy (focused ion beam milling/scanning electron microscope) revealed that dysregulation of the Reelin/Dab1 pathway leads to both transient and permanent changes in the types and morphology of dendritic spines, mainly altering mushroom, filopodial, and branched GC spines. We also found that the Reelin/Dab1 pathway controls synaptic configuration of presynaptic boutons in the dentate gyrus, with its dysregulation leading to a substantial decrease in multi-synaptic bouton innervation. Lastly, we show that the Reelin/Dab1 pathway controls astroglial ensheathment of synapses. Thus, the Reelin pathway is a key regulator of adult-generated GC integration, by controlling dendritic spine types and shapes, their synaptic innervation patterns, and glial ensheathment. These findings may help to better understanding of hippocampal circuit alterations in neurological disorders in which the Reelin pathway is implicated.Significance StatementThe extracellular protein Reelin has an important role in neurological diseases, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease and psychiatric diseases, targeting hippocampal circuits. Here we address the role of Reelin in the development of synaptic contacts in adult-generated granule cells (GCs), a neuronal population that is crucial for learning and memory and implicated in neurological and psychiatric diseases. We found that the Reelin pathway controls the shapes, sizes, and types of dendritic spines, the complexity of multisynaptic innervations and the degree of the perisynaptic astroglial ensheathment that controls synaptic homeostasis. These findings show a pivotal role of Reelin in GC synaptogenesis and provide a foundation for structural circuit alterations caused by Reelin deregulation that may occur in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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