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Neuron. 2000 Oct;28(1):103-14.

Activity-dependent induction of tonic calcineurin activity mediates a rapid developmental downregulation of NMDA receptor currents.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Whole-cell recording in the superficial layers of the developing superior colliculus (sSC) reveals a large drop in NMDA receptor (NMDAR) current decay time synchronized across all neurons and occurring consistently between P10 and P11. We show that blocking the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin (CaN) in the postsynaptic neuron can abolish this drop. The regulation is induced prematurely by 1-2 hr of electrical stimulation in P10 collicular slices only if CaN and NMDAR currents can be activated in the neuron. These data suggest that a long-lasting, CaN-mediated control of NMDAR kinetics is rapidly initiated by heightened activity of the NMDAR itself and demonstrate a novel developmental and tonic function of CaN that can play an important role in modulating the plasticity of the developing CNS.

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