Cbln1, secreted from cerebellar granule cells, and the orphan glutamate receptor 52 (GluD2), expressed by Purkinje cells, are essential for synapse integrity between these neurons in adult mice. Nevertheless, no endogenous binding partners for these molecules have been identified. We found that Cblnl binds directly to the N-terminal domain of GluD2. GluD2 expression by postsynaptic cells, combined with exogenously applied Cbln1, was necessary and sufficient to induce new synapses in vitro and in the adult cerebellum in vivo. Further, beads coated with recombinant Cbln1 directly induced presynaptic differentiation and indirectly caused clustering of postsynaptic molecules via GluD2. These results indicate that the Cbln1-GluD2 complex is a unique synapse organizer that acts bidirectionally on both pre- and postsynaptic components.
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