During early postnatal brain development, experience-driven delivery of AMPA receptors to synapses participates in the initial organization of cortical function. By combining virus-mediated in vivo gene delivery with in vitro whole cell recordings, we identified a subunit-specific developmental program of experience-driven AMPA receptor delivery to synapses in rat barrel cortex. We expressed green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged AMPA receptors (GFP-GluR1, or GFP-GluR4) into layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons at two distinct developmental periods, postnatal day (P)8-P10 and P12-P14. Two days after viral infection, acute brain slices were prepared, and synaptic transmission from layer 4 to layer 2/3 was analyzed by whole cell recordings. We found that whisker experience drives GluR4 but not GluR1 into these synapses early in postnatal development (P8-P10). However, at P12-14, GluR1 but not GluR4 is delivered into synapses by whisker experience. This precise developmental plan suggests unique plasticity properties endowed in different AMPA receptor subunits which shape the initial experience-driven organization of cortical function.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.