Developmental AMPA receptor subunit specificity during experience-driven synaptic plasticity in the rat barrel cortex

Brain Res. 2012 Jan 30;1435:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.11.033. Epub 2011 Nov 19.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, AMPA / genetics
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / metabolism*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Vibrissae / innervation*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 4
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 2
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1