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J Neurosci. 2017 Dec 13;37(50):12094-12105. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1174-17.2017. Epub 2017 Nov 2.

FGF-FGFR Mediates the Activity-Dependent Dendritogenesis of Layer IV Neurons during Barrel Formation.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Bimolecular Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, and.
The Cain Foundation Laboratories, Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Bimolecular Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, and


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and FGF receptors (FGFRs) are known for their potent effects on cell proliferation/differentiation and cortical patterning in the developing brain. However, little is known regarding the roles of FGFs/FGFRs in cortical circuit formation. Here we show that Fgfr1/2/3 and Fgf7/9/10/22 mRNAs are expressed in the developing primary somatosensory (S1) barrel cortex. Barrel cortex layer IV spiny stellate cells (bSCs) are the primary recipients of ascending sensory information via thalamocortical axons (TCAs). Detail quantification revealed distinctive phases for bSC dendritogenesis: orienting dendrites toward TCAs, adding de novo dendritic segments, and elongating dendritic length, while maintaining dendritic patterns. Deleting Fgfr1/2/3 in bSCs had minimal impact on dendritic polarity but transiently increased the number of dendritic segments. However, 6 d later, FGFR1/2/3 loss of function reduced dendritic branch numbers. These data suggest that FGFs/FGFRs have a role in stabilizing dendritic patterning. Depolarization of cultured mouse cortical neurons upregulated the levels of several Fgf/Fgfr mRNAs within 2 h. In vivo, within 6 h of systemic kainic acid administration at postnatal day 6, mRNA levels of Fgf9, Fgf10, Fgfr2c, and Fgfr3b in S1 cortices were enhanced, and this was accompanied by exuberant dendritogenesis of bSCs by 24 h. Deleting Fgfr1/2/3 abolished kainic acid-induced bSC dendritic overgrowth. Finally, FGF9/10 gain of function also resulted in extensive dendritogenesis. Together, our data suggest that FGFs/FGFRs can be regulated by glutamate transmission to modulate/stabilize bSC dendritic complexity. Both male and female mice were used for our study.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Glutamatergic transmission plays critical roles in cortical circuit formation. Its dysregulation has been proposed as a core factor in the etiology of many neurological diseases. We found that excessive glutamate transmission upregulated mRNA expression of Fgfrs and their ligands Fgfs Deleting Fgfr1/2/3 not only impaired bSC dendritogenesis but also abolished glutamate transmission-induced dendritic overgrowth. Overexpressing FGF9 or FGF10 in cortical glutamatergic neurons results in excessive dendritic outgrowth within 24 h, resembling the changes induced by excessive glutamate transmission. Our findings provide strong evidence for the physiological role of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and FGF receptors (FGFRs) in establishing and maintaining cortical circuits. Perturbing the expression levels of FGFs/FGFRs by excessive glutamatergic neurotransmission could lead to abnormal neuronal circuits, which may contribute to neurological and psychiatric disease.


FGF; FGFR; dendritogenesis; glutamatergic; neural activity; whisker barrel map

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