Semaphorin3A regulates synaptic function of differentiated hippocampal neurons

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Abstract

Semaphorins are major chemorepellents for developing neuronal projections. Their persistent expression at adult stages suggests that they may contribute to the functioning of neuronal circuits. We investigated the functional properties of semaphorin3A (Sema3A) in adult hippocampal neurons, and report that exogenous application of this cue decreases the efficacy of synaptic transmission evoked in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices. In situ hybridization, imaging and biochemical techniques showed that the Sema3A receptor component neuropilin-1 is present at hippocampal synapses and localizes in the presynaptic membrane. In differentiated cultured hippocampal neurons, Sema3A elicited Erk1/2 phosphorylation in somata and neuritic compartments. Furthermore, Sema3A application resulted in a striking reduction of synaptophysin and postsynaptic density 95 puncta without affecting the axon diameter. These observations reveal novel functional potentialities for secreted semaphorins, which suggest that these cues could modulate the morphology and function of synapses in the adult brain.

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