During development of the central nervous system, precise synaptic connections between presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons are formed. While significant progress has been made in our understanding of AMPA receptor trafficking during synaptic plasticity, less is known about the molecules that recruit AMPA receptors to nascent synapses during synaptogenesis. Here we identify a type II transmembrane protein (SynDIG1) that regulates AMPA receptor content at developing synapses in dissociated rat hippocampal neurons. SynDIG1 colocalizes with AMPA receptors at synapses and at extrasynaptic sites and associates with AMPA receptors in heterologous cells and brain. Altered levels of SynDIG1 in cultured neurons result in striking changes in excitatory synapse number and function. SynDIG1-mediated synapse development is dependent on association with AMPA receptors via its extracellular C terminus. Intriguingly, SynDIG1 content in dendritic spines is regulated by neuronal activity. Altogether, we define SynDIG1 as an activity-regulated transmembrane protein that regulates excitatory synapse development.
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