Ube3a is required for experience-dependent maturation of the neocortex

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Jun;12(6):777-83. doi: 10.1038/nn.2327. Epub 2009 May 10.


Experience-dependent maturation of neocortical circuits is required for normal sensory and cognitive abilities, which are distorted in neurodevelopmental disorders. We tested whether experience-dependent neocortical modifications require Ube3a, an E3 ubiquitin ligase whose dysregulation has been implicated in autism and Angelman syndrome. Using visual cortex as a model, we found that experience-dependent maturation of excitatory cortical circuits was severely impaired in Angelman syndrome model mice deficient in Ube3a. This developmental defect was associated with profound impairments in neocortical plasticity. Normal plasticity was preserved under conditions of sensory deprivation, but was rapidly lost by sensory experiences. The loss of neocortical plasticity is reversible, as late-onset visual deprivation restored normal synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, Ube3a-deficient mice lacked ocular dominance plasticity in vivo when challenged with monocular deprivation. We conclude that Ube3a is necessary for maintaining plasticity during experience-dependent neocortical development and suggest that the loss of neocortical plasticity contributes to deficits associated with Angelman syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Angelman Syndrome / genetics
  • Angelman Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Angelman Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dominance, Ocular / genetics
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neocortex / growth & development*
  • Neocortex / metabolism*
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics*
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics*
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / pathology
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism
  • Visual Pathways / pathology
  • Visual Perception / genetics


  • Ube3a protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases