Neurexins and neuroligins provide trans-synaptic connectivity by the Ca2+-dependent interaction of their alternatively spliced extracellular domains. Neuroligins specify synapses in an activity-dependent manner, presumably by binding to neurexins. Here, we present the crystal structures of neuroligin-1 in isolation and in complex with neurexin-1 beta. Neuroligin-1 forms a constitutive dimer, and two neurexin-1 beta monomers bind to two identical surfaces on the opposite faces of the neuroligin-1 dimer to form a heterotetramer. The neuroligin-1/neurexin-1 beta complex exhibits a nanomolar affinity and includes a large binding interface that contains bound Ca2+. Alternatively spliced sites in neurexin-1 beta and in neuroligin-1 are positioned nearby the binding interface, explaining how they regulate the interaction. Structure-based mutations of neuroligin-1 at the interface disrupt binding to neurexin-1 beta, but not the folding of neuroligin-1 and confirm the validity of the binding interface of the neuroligin-1/neurexin-1 beta complex. Our results provide molecular insights for understanding the role of cell-adhesion proteins in synapse function.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.