Syngap1 Dynamically Regulates the Fine-Scale Reorganization of Cortical Circuits in Response to Sensory Experience

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
N. LlamosasGavin Rumbaugh


Experience induces complex, neuron-specific changes in population activity within sensory cortex circuits. However, the mechanisms that enable neuron-specific changes within cortical populations remain unclear. To explore the idea that synapse strengthening is involved, we studied fine-scale cortical plasticity in Syngap1 mice, a neurodevelopmental disorder model useful for linking synapse biology to circuit functions. Repeated functional imaging of the same L2/3 somatosensory cortex neurons during single whisker experience revealed that Syngap1 selectively regulated the plasticity of a low-active, or silent, neuronal subpopulation. Syngap1 also regulated spike-timing-dependent synaptic potentiation and experience-mediated in vivo synapse bouton formation, but not synaptic depression or bouton elimination in L2/3. Adult re-expression of Syngap1 restored plasticity of silent neurons, demonstrating that this gene controls dynamic cellular processes required for population-specific changes to cortical circuits during experience. These findings suggest that abnormal experience-dependent redistribution of cortical population activity may contribute to the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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