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Neuron. 2004 Jul 22;43(2):237-49.

Eye opening rapidly induces synaptic potentiation and refinement.

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Department of Biology, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated increases in AMPA receptor (AMPAR) currents are associated with long-term synaptic potentiation (LTP). Here, we provide evidence that similar changes occur in response to normal increases in sensory stimulation during development. Experiments discriminated between eye opening-induced and age-dependent changes in synaptic currents. At 6 hr after eye opening (AEO), a transient population of currents mediated by NR2B-rich NMDARs increase significantly, and silent synapses peak. Sustained increases in evoked and miniature AMPAR currents occur at 12 hr AEO. Significant changes in AMPAR:NMDAR evoked current ratios, contacts per axon, and inputs per cell are present at 24 hr AEO. The AMPAR current changes are those seen in vitro during NMDAR-dependent LTP. Here, they are a consequence of eye opening and are associated with a new wave of synaptic refinement. These data also suggest that new NR2B-rich NMDAR currents precede and may initiate this developmental synaptic potentiation and functional tuning.

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