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Cross-modal regulation of synaptic AMPA receptors in primary sensory cortices by visual experience


Lack of a sensory input not only alters the cortical circuitry subserving the deprived sense, but also produces compensatory changes in the functionality of other sensory modalities. Here we report that visual deprivation produces opposite changes in synaptic function in primary visual and somatosensory cortices in rats, which are rapidly reversed by visual experience. This type of bidirectional cross-modal plasticity is associated with changes in synaptic AMPA receptor subunit composition.

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Figure 1: Cross-modal changes in AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission by visual experience.
Figure 2: Cross-modal changes in synaptic AMPAR subunit composition by visual experience.


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The authors would like to thank E.M. Quinlan for helpful discussions and comments on this manuscript. This work was supported by a US National Institutes of Health grant (R01-EY014882) and a Sloan Research Fellowship to H.-K.L., a US National Institutes of Health grant (R01-EY012124) to A.K. and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship to L.W.X.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.G. and B.J. conducted the electrophysiology experiments (mEPSC recordings and rectification measurements, respectively) and assisted in writing the manuscript; L.W.X. and L.S. performed the biochemistry experiments; A.K. oversaw the electrophysiology (rectification measurements), contributed to discussions on experimental designs and collaborated on manuscript writing; H.-K.L. designed the studies, oversaw experiments, contributed to the electrophysiology (mEPSC recordings) and biochemistry and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hey-Kyoung Lee.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Changes in mEPSC amplitude by visual experience follow the rules of a form of homeostatic synaptic plasticity termed “synaptic scaling”. (PDF 314 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Biochemical isolation of postsynaptic density (PSD) fractions. (PDF 680 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 3

Comparison of GluR1/GluR2 ratio in total brain homogenate and alterations in GluR1 phosphorylation sites by visual experience. (PDF 1206 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 4

Inward rectification is dependent on intracellular spermine. (PDF 233 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 5

Changes in synaptic AMPA receptors in visual and somatosensory cortices by 5 weeks of dark-rearing from birth. (PDF 950 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 6

Differences in synaptic AMPA receptor function and subunit composition in visual and somatosensory cortices of normal-reared rats. (PDF 356 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 133 kb)

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Goel, A., Jiang, B., Xu, L. et al. Cross-modal regulation of synaptic AMPA receptors in primary sensory cortices by visual experience. Nat Neurosci 9, 1001–1003 (2006).

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