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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 11;108(2):816-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017914108. Epub 2010 Dec 27.

Arc-dependent synapse-specific homeostatic plasticity.

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  • 1The Solomon Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, USA.


Both theoretical and experimental research has indicated that the synaptic strength between neurons in a network needs to be properly fine-tuned and controlled by homeostatic mechanisms to ensure proper network function. One such mechanism that has been extensively characterized is synaptic homeostatic plasticity or global synaptic scaling. This mechanism refers to the bidirectional ability of all synapses impinging on a neuron to actively compensate for changes in the neuron's overall excitability. Here, using a combination of electrophysiological, two-photon glutamate uncaging and imaging methods, we show that mature individual synapses, independent of neighboring synapses, have the ability to autonomously sense their level of activity and actively compensate for it in a homeostatic-like fashion. This synapse-specific homeostatic plasticity, similar to global synaptic plasticity, requires the immediate early gene Arc. Together, our results document an extra level of regulation of synaptic function that bears important computational consequences on information storage in the brain.

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