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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 27;108(52):21241-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108261109. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Experience-dependent regulation of CaMKII activity within single visual cortex synapses in vivo.

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  • 1The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Unbalanced visual input during development induces persistent alterations in the function and structure of visual cortical neurons. The molecular mechanisms that drive activity-dependent changes await direct visualization of underlying signals at individual synapses in vivo. By using a genetically engineered Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) probe for the detection of CaMKII activity, and two-photon imaging of single synapses within identified functional domains, we have revealed unexpected and differential mechanisms in specific subsets of synapses in vivo. Brief monocular deprivation leads to activation of CaMKII in most synapses of layer 2/3 pyramidal cells within deprived eye domains, despite reduced visual drive, but not in nondeprived eye domains. Synapses that are eliminated in deprived eye domains have low basal CaMKII activity, implying a protective role for activated CaMKII against synapse elimination.

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