Role of the adhesion molecule F3/Contactin in synaptic plasticity and memory

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Abstract

Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) have a pivotal role in building and maintaining synaptic structures during brain development participating in axonal elongation and pathfinding, glial guidance of neuronal migration, as well as myelination. CAMs expression persists in the adult brain particularly in structures undergoing postnatal neurogenesis and involved in synaptic plasticity and memory as the hippocampus. Among the neural CAMs, we have recently focused on F3/Contactin, a glycosylphosphatidyl inositol-anchored glycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, involved in neuronal development, synaptic maintenance and organization of neuronal networks. Here, we discuss our recent data suggesting that F3/Contactin exerts a role in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory in adult and aged mice. In particular, we have studied long-term potentiation (LTP), spatial and object recognition memory, and phosphorylation of the transcription factor cAMP-Responsive-Element Binding protein (CREB) in a transgenic mouse model of F3/Contactin overexpression. We also investigated whether F3/Contactin might influence neuronal apoptosis and the production of amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ), known to be one of the main pathogenetic hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In conclusion, a further understanding of F3/Contactin role in synaptic plasticity and memory might have interesting clinical outcomes in cognitive disorders, such as aging and AD, offering innovative therapeutic opportunities.

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