Mutations in neurexin and neuroligin (synaptic adhesion molecules) have been linked to autism and schizophrenia in humans. The mechanism by which defects in these molecules affect synaptic function and development has not been obvious. Hu et al. (Science, 2012) found that in Caenorhabditis elegans neurexin and neuroligin mediate a retrograde synaptic signal that inhibits neurotransmitter release at neuromuscular junctions. This retrograde signaling was induced in mutants lacking a muscle microRNA (miR-1) and was blocked in mutants lacking NLG-1 or NRX-1. It inhibited transmission by adjusting the rate and duration of synaptic vesicle release.
Neurexin and neuroligin mediate retrograde synaptic inhibition in C. elegans. Hu Z et al. Science. 2012 Aug 24;337(6097):980-4. PMID: 22859820
Posted by Yannis Trakadis, MD