Neuropilin 2 Signaling Mediates Corticostriatal Transmission, Spine Maintenance, and Goal-Directed Learning in Mice

Maxime Assous, Edward Martinez, Carol Eisenberg, Fulva Shah, Aleksandra Kosc, Kristie Varghese, Diego Espinoza, Shaznaan Bhimani, James M. Tepper, Michael W. Shiflett, Tracy S. Tran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The striatum represents the main input structure of the basal ganglia, receiving massive excitatory input from the cortex and the thalamus. The development and maintenance of cortical input to the striatum is crucial for all striatal function including many forms of sensorimotor integration, learning, and action control. The molecular mechanisms regulating the development and maintenance of corticostriatal synaptic transmission are unclear. Here we show that the guidance cue, Semaphorin 3F and its receptor Neuropilin 2 (Nrp2), influence dendritic spine maintenance, corticostriatal short-term plasticity, and learning in adult male and female mice. We found that Nrp2 is enriched in adult layer V pyramidal neurons, corticostriatal terminals, and in developing and adult striatal spiny projection neurons (SPNs). Loss of Nrp2 increases SPN excitability and spine number, reduces short-term facilitation at corticostriatal synapses, and impairs goal-directed learning in an instrumental task. Acute deletion of Nrp2 selectively in adult layer V cortical neurons produces a similar increase in the number of dendritic spines and presynaptic modifications at the corticostriatal synapse in the Nrp2-/- mouse, but does not affect the intrinsic excitability of SPNs. Furthermore, conditional loss of Nrp2 impairs sensorimotor learning on the accelerating rotarod without affecting goal-directed instrumental learning. Collectively, our results identify Nrp2 signaling as essential for the development and maintenance of the corticostriatal pathway and may shed novel insights on neurodevelopmental disorders linked to the corticostriatal pathway and Semaphorin signaling.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The corticostriatal pathway controls sensorimotor, learning, and action control behaviors and its dysregulation is linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here we demonstrate that Neuropilin 2 (Nrp2), a receptor for the axon guidance cue semaphorin 3F, has important and previously unappreciated functions in the development and adult maintenance of dendritic spines on striatal spiny projection neurons (SPNs), corticostriatal short-term plasticity, intrinsic physiological properties of SPNs, and learning in mice. Our findings, coupled with the association of Nrp2 with ASD in human populations, suggest that Nrp2 may play an important role in ASD pathophysiology. Overall, our work demonstrates Nrp2 to be a key regulator of corticostriatal development, maintenance, and function, and may lead to better understanding of neurodevelopmental disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8845-8859
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 6 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • cortical pyramidal neurons
  • neurodevelopment
  • rotarod
  • semaphorin signaling
  • short-term plasticity
  • striatum


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