Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Teneurins are ancient cell-cell adhesion receptors that are vital for brain development and synapse organisation. They originated in early metazoan evolution through a horizontal gene transfer event when a bacterial YD-repeat toxin fused to a eukaryotic receptor. We present X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM structures of two Teneurins, revealing a ~200 kDa extracellular super-fold in which eight sub-domains form an intricate structure centred on a spiralling YD-repeat shell. An alternatively spliced loop, which is implicated in homophilic Teneurin interaction and specificity, is exposed and thus poised for interaction. The N-terminal side of the shell is 'plugged' via a fibronectin-plug domain combination, which defines a new class of YD proteins. Unexpectedly, we find that these proteins are widespread amongst modern bacteria, suggesting early metazoan receptor evolution from a distinct class of proteins, which today includes both bacterial proteins and eukaryotic Teneurins.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Alternative Splicing, Cell Communication, Cryoelectron Microscopy, Crystallography, X-Ray, Membrane Glycoproteins, Platelet Glycoprotein GPIb-IX Complex, Protein Structure, Secondary, Tenascin