d-Catenin engages the autophagy pathway to sculpt the developing dendritic arbor

Cheryl Ligon, Eunju Seong, Ethan J. Schroeder, Nicholas W. DeKorver, Li Yuan, Tammy R. Chaudoin, Yu Cai, Shilpa Buch, Stephen J. Bonasera, Jyothi Arikkath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The development of the dendritic arbor in pyramidal neurons is critical for neural circuit function. Here, we uncovered a pathway in which d-catenin, a component of the cadherin-catenin cell adhesion complex, promotes coordination of growth among individual dendrites and engages the autophagy mechanism to sculpt the developing dendritic arbor. Using a rat primary neuron model, time-lapse imaging, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy, we found that apical and basolateral dendrites are coordinately sculpted during development. Loss or knockdown of d-catenin uncoupled this coordination, leading to retraction of the apical dendrite without altering basolateral dendrite dynamics. Autophagy is a key cellular pathway that allows degradation of cellular components. We observed that the impairment of the dendritic arbor resulting from d-catenin knockdown could be reversed by knockdown of autophagy-related 7 (ATG7), a component of the autophagy machinery. We propose that d-catenin regulates the dendritic arbor by coordinating the dynamics of individual dendrites and that the autophagy mechanism may be leveraged by d-catenin and other effectors to sculpt the developing dendritic arbor. Our findings have implications for the management of neurological disorders, such as autism and intellectual disability, that are characterized by dendritic aberrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10988-11001
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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