DOI: 10.1111/jnc.15948 ISSN:

Plk2 promotes synaptic destabilization through disruption of N‐cadherin adhesion complexes during homeostatic adaptation to hyperexcitation

Mai Abdel‐Ghani, Yeunkum Lee, Lyna Ait Akli, Marielena Moran, Amanda Schneeweis, Sarra Djemil, Rebecca El Choueiry, Ruqaya Murtadha, Daniel T. S. Pak
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry


Synaptogenesis in the brain is highly organized and orchestrated by synaptic cellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) such as N‐cadherin and amyloid precursor protein (APP) that contribute to the stabilization and structure of synapses. Although N‐cadherin plays an integral role in synapse formation and synaptic plasticity, its function in synapse dismantling is not as well understood. Synapse weakening and loss are prominent features of neurodegenerative diseases, and can also be observed during homeostatic compensation to neuronal hyperexcitation. Previously, we have shown that during homeostatic synaptic plasticity, APP is a target for cleavage triggered by phosphorylation by Polo‐like kinase 2 (Plk2). Here, we found that Plk2 directly phosphorylates N‐cadherin, and during neuronal hyperexcitation Plk2 promotes N‐cadherin proteolytic processing, degradation, and disruption of complexes with APP. We further examined the molecular mechanisms underlying N‐cadherin degradation. Loss of N‐cadherin adhesive function destabilizes excitatory synapses and promotes their structural dismantling as a prerequisite to eventual synapse elimination. This pathway, which may normally help to homeostatically restrain excitability, could also shed light on the dysregulated synapse loss that occurs in cognitive disorders.image

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