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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Sep 28;107(39):17005-10. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008938107. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

Nonneuronal cells regulate synapse formation in the vestibular sensory epithelium via erbB-dependent BDNF expression.

Author information

  • 1F. M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

Recent studies indicate that molecules released by glia can induce synapse formation. However, what induces glia to produce such signals, their identity, and their in vivo relevance remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that supporting cells of the vestibular organ--cells that have many characteristics of glia--promote synapse formation only when induced by neuron-derived signals. Furthermore, we identify BDNF as the synaptogenic signal produced by these nonneuronal cells. Mice in which erbB signaling has been eliminated in supporting cells have vestibular dysfunction caused by failure of synapse formation between hair cells and sensory neurons. This phenotype correlates with reduced BDNF expression in supporting cells and is rescued by reexpression of BDNF in these cells. Furthermore, knockdown of BDNF expression in supporting cells postnatally phenocopies the loss of erbB signaling. These results indicate that vestibular supporting cells contribute in vivo to vestibular synapse formation and that this is mediated by reciprocal signals between sensory neurons and supporting cells involving erbB receptors and BDNF.

PMID:
20837532
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2947909
Free PMC Article

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