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J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 19;26(16):4338-49.

Barrel map development relies on protein kinase A regulatory subunit II beta-mediated cAMP signaling.

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Division of Neurology/Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating the activity-dependent development of brain circuitry are still incompletely understood. Here, we examine the role of cAMP-dependent protein kinase [protein kinase A (PKA)] signaling in cortical development and plasticity, focusing on its role in thalamocortical synapse and barrel map development. We provide direct evidence that PKA activity mediates barrel map formation using knock-out mice that lack type IIbeta regulatory subunits of PKA (PKARIIbeta). We show that PKARIIbeta-mediated PKA function is required for proper dendritogenesis and the organization of cortical layer IV neurons into barrels, but not for the development and plasticity of thalamocortical afferent clustering into a barrel pattern. We localize PKARIIbeta function to postsynaptic processes in barrel cortex and show that postsynaptic PKA targets, but not presynaptic PKA targets, have decreased phosphorylation in pkar2b knock-out (PKARIIbeta(-/-)) mice. We also show that long-term potentiation at TC synapses and the associated developmental increase in AMPA receptor function at these synapses, which normally occurs as barrels form, is absent in PKARIIbeta(-/-) mice. Together, these experiments support an activity-dependent model for barrel map development in which the selective addition and elimination of thalamocortical synapses based on Hebbian mechanisms for synapse formation is mediated by a cAMP/PKA-dependent pathway that relies on PKARIIbeta function.

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