Apolipoprotein E receptor 2 (Apoer2), a member of the LDL receptor gene family, and its ligand Reelin control neuronal migration during brain development. Apoer2 is also essential for induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the adult brain. Here we show that Apoer2 is present in the postsynaptic densities of excitatory synapses where it forms a functional complex with NMDA receptors. Reelin signaling through Apoer2 markedly enhances LTP through a mechanism that requires the presence of amino acids encoded by an exon in the intracellular domain of Apoer2. This exon is alternatively spliced in an activity-dependent manner and is required for Reelin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of NMDA receptor subunits. Mice constitutively lacking the exon perform poorly in learning and memory tasks. Thus, alternative splicing of Apoer2, a novel component of the NMDA receptor complex, controls the modulation of NMDA receptor activity, synaptic neurotransmission, and memory by Reelin.
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