CTNND2 is an astrocyte-enriched Autism risk gene that encodes for the protein delta-catenin. Preliminary experiments revealed that knockdown of delta-catenin in astrocytes impairs astrocyte survival and decreases astrocyte processes both in vitro and in vivo. Astrocyte morphology coincides with synapse formation during cortical development. Delta-catenin was assumed to be neuron-specific and has been implicated in modulating cadherin-based homophilic interactions between pre and post-synapses. We hypothesis that delta-catenin stabilizes astrocyte-neuron adhesion signalling via cadherin molecules in order to control astrocyte and synapse development. We have verified the presence of endogenous Ctnnd2 mRNA in both cortical and hippocampal astrocytes through fluorescence in situ hybridisation and detail our attempts to visualize N-cadherin through immunohistochemistry.

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