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Nat Neurosci. 2006 Mar;9(3):372-80. Epub 2006 Feb 12.

Visual stimuli-induced LTD of GABAergic synapses mediated by presynaptic NMDA receptors.

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Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, California 94720-3200, USA.


Local GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) circuits contribute to sensory experience-dependent refinement of neuronal connections in the developing nervous system, but whether GABAergic synapses themselves can be rapidly modified by sensory stimuli is largely unknown. Here we report that repetitive light stimuli or theta burst stimulation (TBS) of the optic nerve in the developing Xenopus retinotectal system induces long-term potentiation (LTP) of glutamatergic inputs but long-term depression (LTD) of GABAergic inputs to the same tectal neuron. The LTD is due to a reduction in presynaptic GABA release and requires activation of presynaptic NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors (NMDARs) and coincident high-level GABAergic activity. Thus, the presynaptic NMDAR may function as a coincidence detector for adjacent glutamatergic and GABAergic activities, leading to coordinated synaptic modification by sensory experience.

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