Neuregulins (NRGs) are EGF-like ligands associated with cognitive disorders. Unprocessed proNRG3 is cleaved by BACE1 to generate the mature membrane-bound NRG3 ligand, but the subcellular site of proNRG3 cleavage, mechanisms underlying its transport into axons, and presynaptic accumulation remain unknown. Using an optogenetic proNRG3 cleavage reporter (LA143-NRG3), we investigate the spatial-temporal dynamics of NRG3 processing and sorting in neurons. In dark conditions, unprocessed LA143-NRG3 is retained in the trans-Golgi network but, upon photoactivation, is cleaved by BACE1 and released from the TGN. Mature NRG3 then emerges on the somatodendritic plasma membrane from where it is re-endocytosed and anterogradely transported on Rab4+ vesicles into axons via transcytosis. By contrast, the BACE1 substrate APP is sorted into axons on Rab11+ vesicles. Lastly, by a mechanism we denote “trans-synaptic retention,” NRG3 accumulates at presynaptic terminals by stable interaction with its receptor ErbB4 on postsynaptic GABAergic interneurons. We propose that trans-synaptic retention may account for polarized expression of other neuronal transmembrane ligands and receptors.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.