Differential expression of neurexin genes in the mouse brain

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology, Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute; Futai Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, MD/PhD Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Animal Experimentation and Research | Genetic Phenomena | Nervous System | Neurology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Synapses, highly specialized membrane junctions between neurons, connect presynaptic neurotransmitter release sites and postsynaptic ligand-gated channels. Neurexins (Nrxns), a family of presynaptic adhesion molecules, have been characterized as major regulators of synapse development and function. Via their extracellular domains, Nrxns bind to different postsynaptic proteins, generating highly diverse functional readouts through their postsynaptic binding partners. Not surprisingly given these versatile protein interactions, mutations and deletions of Nrxn genes have been identified in patients with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia. Therefore, elucidating the expression profiles of Nrxns in the brain is of high significance. Here, using chromogenic and fluorescent in situ hybridization, we characterize the expression patterns of Nrxn isoforms throughout the brain. We found that each Nrxn isoform displays a unique expression profile in a region-, cell type-, and sensory system-specific manner. Interestingly, we also found that alphaNrxn1 and alphaNrxn2 mRNAs are expressed in non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Lastly, we found diverse expression patterns of genes that encode Nrxn binding proteins, such as Neuroligins (Nlgns), Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal protein (Lrrtms) and Latrophilins (Adgrls), suggesting that Nrxn proteins can mediate numerous combinations of trans-synaptic interactions. Together, our anatomical profiling of Nrxn gene expression reflects the diverse roles of Nrxn molecules.


RRID AB_514500, RRID AB_840257, RRIDs, RRID SCR_003070, brain, in situ hybridization, mice, neurexin, synapse, trans-synaptic adhesion

DOI of Published Version



J Comp Neurol. 2019 Feb 13. doi: 10.1002/cne.24664. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of comparative neurology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID