Wingless-type family member 5A (Wnt-5a) stimulates synaptic differentiation and function of glutamatergic synapses

Lorena Varela-Nallar, Iván E. Alfaro, Felipe G. Serrano, Jorge Parodi, Nibaldo C. Inestrosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)


Growing evidence indicates that Wingless-type (Wnt) signaling plays an important role in the maturation of the central nervous system. We report here that Wingless-type family member 5A (Wnt-5a) is expressed early in development and stimulates dendrite spine morphogenesis, inducing de novo formation of spines and increasing the size of the preexisting ones in hippocampal neurons. Wnt-5a increased intracellular calcium concentration in dendritic processes and the amplitude of NMDA spontaneous miniature currents. Acute application of Wnt-5a increased the amplitude of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSP) in hippocampal slices, an effect that was prevented by calciumchannel blockers. The physiological relevance of our findings is supported by studies showing that Wnt scavengers decreased spine density, miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents, and fEPSP amplitude. We conclude that Wnt-5a stimulates different aspects of synaptic differentiation and plasticity in the mammalian central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21164-21169
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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