Role of β-catenin in synaptic vesicle localization and presynaptic assembly


  • S.X. Bamji
  • K. Shimazu
  • N. Kimes
  • J. Huelsken
  • W. Birchmeier
  • B. Lu
  • L.F. Reichardt


  • Neuron


  • Neuron 40 (4): 719-731


  • Cadherins and catenins are thought to promote adhesion between pre and postsynaptic elements in the brain. Here we show a role for {beta}-catenin in localizing the reserved pool of vesicles at presynaptic sites. Deletion of {beta}-catenin in hippocampal pyramidal neurons in vivo resulted in a reduction in the number of reserved pool vesicles per synapse and an impaired response to prolonged repetitive stimulation. This corresponded to a dispersion of vesicles along the axon in cultured neurons. Interestingly, these effects are not due to {beta}-catenin's involvement in cadherin-mediated adhesion or wnt signaling. Instead, {beta}-catenin modulates vesicle localization via its PDZ binding domain to recruit PDZ proteins such as Veli to cadherin at synapses. This study defines a specific role for cadherins and catenins in synapse organization beyond their roles in mediating cell adhesion.