Neural mechanisms underlying GABAergic regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis
Postnatal hippocampal neurogenesis induces network remodeling and may participate to mechanisms of learning. In turn, the maturation and survival of newborn neurons is regulated by their activity. Here, we tested the effect of a cell-autonomous overexpression of synaptic adhesion molecules on the maturation and survival of neurons born postnatally and on hippocampal-dependent memory performances. Families of adhesion molecules are known to induce pre- and post-synaptic assembly. Using viral targeting, we overexpressed three different synaptic adhesion molecules, SynCAM1, Neuroligin-1B and Neuroligin-2A in newborn neurons in the dentate gyrus of 7- to 9-week-old mice. We found that SynCAM1 increased the morphological maturation of dendritic spines and mossy fiber terminals while Neuroligin-1B increased spine density. In contrast, Neuroligin-2A increased both spine density and size as well as GABAergic innervation and resulted in a drastic increase of neuronal survival. Surprisingly, despite increased neurogenesis, mice overexpressing Neuroligin-2A in new neurons showed decreased memory performances in a Morris water maze task. These results indicate that the cell-autonomous overexpression of synaptic adhesion molecules can enhance different aspects of synapse formation on new neurons and increase their survival. Furthermore, they suggest that the mechanisms by which new neurons integrate in the postnatal hippocampus conditions their functional implication in learning and memory.