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Nature. 2002 Oct 3;419(6906):475-80.

Dendrite growth increased by visual activity requires NMDA receptor and Rho GTPases.

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  • 1Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


Previous studies suggest that neuronal activity may guide the development of synaptic connections in the central nervous system through mechanisms involving glutamate receptors and GTPase-dependent modulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Here we demonstrate by in vivo time-lapse imaging of optic tectal cells in Xenopus laevis tadpoles that enhanced visual activity driven by a light stimulus promotes dendritic arbor growth. The stimulus-induced dendritic arbor growth requires glutamate-receptor-mediated synaptic transmission, decreased RhoA activity and increased Rac and Cdc42 activity. The results delineate a role for Rho GTPases in the structural plasticity driven by visual stimulation in vivo.

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