Dendritic spine turnover becomes limited in the adult cerebral cortex. Identification of specific aspects of spine dynamics that can be unmasked in adulthood and its regulatory molecular mechanisms could provide novel therapeutic targets for inducing plasticity at both the functional and structural levels for robust recovery from brain disorders and injuries in adults. Lynx1, an endogenous inhibitor of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, was previously shown to increase its expression in adulthood and thus to limit functional ocular dominance plasticity in adult primary visual cortex (V1). However, the role of this "brake" on spine dynamics is not known. We examined the contribution of Lynx1 on dendritic spine turnover before and after monocular deprivation (MD) in adult V1 with chronic in vivo imaging using two-photon microscopy and determined the spine turnover rate of apical dendrites of layer 5 (L5) and L2/3 pyramidal neurons in adult V1 of Lynx1 knock-out (KO) mice. We found that the deletion of Lynx1 doubled the baseline spine turnover rate, suggesting that the spine dynamics in the adult cortex is actively limited by the presence of Lynx1. After MD, adult Lynx1-KO mice selectively exhibit higher rate of spine loss with no difference in gain rate in L5 neurons compared with control wild-type counterparts, revealing a key signature of spine dynamics associated with robust functional plasticity in adult V1. Overall, Lynx1 could be a promising therapeutic target to induce not only functional, but also structural plasticity at the level of spine dynamics in the adult brain.
Significance statement: Dendritic spine turnover becomes limited in the adult cortex. In mouse visual cortex, a premier model of experience-dependent plasticity, we found that the deletion of Lynx1, a nicotinic "brake" for functional plasticity, doubled the baseline spine turnover in adulthood, suggesting that the spine dynamics in the adult cortex is actively limited by Lynx1. After visual deprivation, spine loss, but not gain rate, remains higher in adult Lynx1 knock-out mice than in control wild-type mice, revealing a key signature of spine dynamics associated with robust functional plasticity. Lynx1 would be a promising target to induce not only functional, but also structural plasticity at the level of spine dynamics in adulthood.
Keywords: Lynx1; dendritic spine; plasticity; visual cortex.
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