Neurexins (NRXNs) are a class of presynaptic cell adhesion proteins responsible for the connection of neurons at the synapse. They are widely expressed in all brain regions as well as neuron types. NRXNs contain a single transmembrane domain. The intracellular cytoplasmic region interacts with proteins associated with exocytosis, and the extracellular domain binds to the postsynaptic neuroligins (NLGNs) in a Ca2+-dependent manner. The NRXNs-NLGNs binding plays an essential role in the formation of excitatory or inhibitory synapses and mediation of the neuronal network. NRXNs can promote neuroligins accumulation in postsynaptic cells to a dendritic surface, leading to postsynaptic responses, such as clustered neurotransmitter receptors and other postsynaptic proteins. And the NLGNs can also block presynaptic signals by recruiting neurexins. Mutations in NRXNs and NLGNs are involved in nervous disorders, such as autism, cognitive diseases.
Here shows part of NRXNs in humans including NRXN1 and NRXN2, encoded by NRXN1 and NRXN2 genes, respectively. In mammals, NRXNs are encoded by three different genes (NRXN1-3). Among those, NRXN1 and NRXN3 genes are the largest of mammalian genes, with sizes of about 1.1 and 1.6 Mb, respectively. While NRXN2 is relatively smaller, with a length of 110 kb.
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