Neuroscience letters

Synaptic formation in subsets of glutamatergic terminals in the mouse hippocampal formation is affected by a deficiency in the neural cell recognition molecule NB-3.

PMID 20176085


The neural cell recognition molecule NB-3, which is also referred to as contactin-6, is a member of the contactin subgroup molecules that are expressed prominently in the developing nervous system after birth. In mice, an NB-3 deficiency impairs motor coordination and reduces the synaptic density between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells in the cerebellum. Here, we studied the role of NB-3 in the formation of glutamatergic synapses in the hippocampal formation. At postnatal day 5, NB-3 immunoreactivity was detected in the subiculum, the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of the CA1 region and the hilus of the dentate gyrus. NB-3 expression in the strata radiatum and oriens was weak, and it was very weak in the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus, the pyramidal cell layer of regions CA3 to CA1 and the stratum lucidum. NB-3-positive puncta partially overlapped with vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1) and 2 (VGLUT2), excitatory presynaptic markers, but not with vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT), an inhibitory presynaptic marker. The density of VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 puncta in the regions where NB-3 was strongly expressed in wild-type mice was reduced by approximately 20-30% in NB-3 knockout mice relative to wild-type mice, whereas that of VGAT puncta was not affected by NB-3 deficiency. Thus, NB-3 has key roles in the formation of glutamatergic, but not GABAergic, synapses during postnatal development of the hippocampal formation as well as the cerebellum.