Npas4 regulates excitatory-inhibitory balance within neural circuits through cell-type-specific gene programs

Cell. 2014 May 22;157(5):1216-29. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.058.


The nervous system adapts to experience by inducing a transcriptional program that controls important aspects of synaptic plasticity. Although the molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity are well characterized in excitatory neurons, the mechanisms that regulate this process in inhibitory neurons are only poorly understood. Here, we describe a transcriptional program that is induced by neuronal activity in inhibitory neurons. We find that, while neuronal activity induces expression of early-response transcription factors such as Npas4 in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons, Npas4 activates distinct programs of late-response genes in inhibitory and excitatory neurons. These late-response genes differentially regulate synaptic input to these two types of neurons, promoting inhibition onto excitatory neurons while inducing excitation onto inhibitory neurons. These findings suggest that the functional outcomes of activity-induced transcriptional responses are adapted in a cell-type-specific manner to achieve a circuit-wide homeostatic response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Npas4 protein, mouse

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE55591