Presynaptic Nrxn3 is essential for ribbon-synapse assembly in hair cells (2024)

Jukic, A., Lei, Z., Cebul, E.R., Pinter, K., Mosqueda, N., David, S., Tarchini, B., Kindt, K. (2024). Presynaptic Nrxn3 is essential for ribbon-synapse assembly in hair cells. bioRxiv, 10.1101/2024.02.14.580267.



Hair cells of the inner ear rely on specialized ribbon synapses to transmit sensory information to the central nervous system. The molecules required to assemble these synapses are not fully understood. We show that Nrxn3, a presynaptic adhesion molecule, is critical for ribbon-synapse assembly in hair cells. In both mouse and zebrafish models, loss of Nrxn3 results in significantly fewer intact ribbon synapses. In zebrafish we demonstrate that a 60% loss of synapses in nrxn3 mutants dramatically reduces both presynaptic responses in hair cells and postsynaptic responses in afferent neurons. Despite a reduction in synapse function in this model, we find no deficits in the acoustic startle response, a behavior reliant on these synapses. Overall, this work demonstrates that Nrxn3 is a critical and conserved molecule required to assemble ribbon synapses. Understanding how ribbon synapses assemble is a key step towards generating novel therapies to treat forms of age-related and noise-induced hearing loss that occur due to loss of ribbon synapses.

Summary Statement Hearing and balance depend on specialized ribbon synapses that transmit sensory stimuli between hair cells and afferent neurons. We identify Nrxn3 as a key molecular player in ribbon-synapse assembly in hair cells.