Latrophilins (LPHNs) are a small family of G protein-coupled receptors known to mediate the massive synaptic exocytosis caused by the black widow spider venom α-latrotoxin, but their endogenous ligands and function remain unclear. Mutations in LPHN3 are strongly associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, suggesting a role for latrophilins in human cognitive function. Using affinity chromatography and mass spectrometry, we identify the FLRT family of leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins as endogenous postsynaptic ligands for latrophilins. We demonstrate that the FLRT3 and LPHN3 ectodomains interact with high affinity in trans and that interference with this interaction using soluble recombinant LPHN3, LPHN3 shRNA, or FLRT3 shRNA reduces excitatory synapse density in cultured neurons. In addition, reducing FLRT3 levels with shRNA in vivo decreases afferent input strength and dendritic spine number in dentate granule cells. These observations indicate that LPHN3 and its ligand FLRT3 play an important role in glutamatergic synapse development. Latrophilins (LPHNs) are presynaptic adhesion GPCRs that confer susceptibility to black widow spider venom. Mutations in LPHN3 are implicated in ADHD. O'Sullivan et al. identify FLRT proteins as endogenous postsynaptic ligands for LPHNs and find that FLRT3 and LPHN3 regulate synapse number in developing neurons.
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