Two Classes of Secreted Synaptic Organizers in the Central Nervous System

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Research in the last two decades has identified many synaptic organizers in the central nervous system that directly regulate the assembly of pre- and/or postsynaptic molecules, such as synaptic vesicles, active zone proteins, and neurotransmitter receptors. They are classified into secreted factors and cell adhesion molecules, such as neurexins and neuroligins. Certain secreted factors are termed extracellular scaffolding proteins (ESPs) because they are components of the synaptic extracellular matrix and serve as a scaffold at the synaptic cleft. These include Lgi1, Cbln1, neuronal pentraxins, Hevin, thrombospondins, and glypicans. Diffusible secreted factors, such as Wnts, fibroblast growth factors, and semaphorins, tend to act from a distance. In contrast, ESPs remain at the synaptic cleft and often help synaptic adhesion and/or accumulation of postsynaptic receptors. Many fundamental questions remain about when, how, and why various synaptic organizers establish and modify the vast numbers of connections during development and throughout life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-262
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 10


  • Cerebellin 1 precursor
  • Fibroblast growth factor
  • Leucine-rich glioma inactivated protein 1
  • Neuronal pentraxins
  • Thrombospondin
  • Wnt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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