Control of neural development and function by glial neuroligins.
Neuroligins are a family of cell adhesion molecules, which are best known for their functions as postsynaptic components of the trans-synaptic neurexin-neuroligin complexes. Neuroligins are highly conserved across evolution with important roles in the formation, maturation and function of synaptic structures. Mutations in the genes that encode for neuroligins have been linked to a number of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, which stem from synaptic pathologies. Owing to their essential functions in regulating synaptic connectivity and their link to synaptic dysfunction in disease, previous studies on neuroligins have focused on neurons. Yet a recent work reveals that neuroligins are also expressed in the central nervous system by glial cells, such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, and perform important roles in controlling synaptic connectivity in a non-cell autonomous manner. In this review, we will highlight these recent findings demonstrating the important roles of glial neuroligins in regulating the development and connectivity of healthy and diseased brains.
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