While microglia have been established as critical mediators of synaptic plasticity, the molecular signals underlying this process are still being uncovered. Increasing evidence suggests that microglia utilize these signals in a temporally and regionally heterogeneous manner. Subsequently, it is necessary to understand the conditions under which different molecular signals are employed by microglia to mediate the physiological process of synaptic remodeling in development and adulthood. While the microglial purinergic receptor P2Y12 is required for ocular dominance plasticity, an adolescent form of experience-dependent plasticity, it remains unknown whether P2Y12 functions in other forms of plasticity at different developmental time points or in different brain regions. Using a combination of ex vivo characterization and behavioral testing, we examined how the loss of P2Y12 affects developmental processes and behavioral performance in adulthood in mice. We found P2Y12 was not required for an early form of plasticity in the developing visual thalamus and did not affect microglial migration into barrels in the developing somatosensory cortex. In adult mice, however, the loss of P2Y12 resulted in alterations in recognition and social memory, as well as anxiety-like behaviors, suggesting that while P2Y12 is not a universal regulator of synaptic plasticity, the loss of P2Y12 is sufficient to cause functional defects.
Keywords: microglia; purines; synaptic plasticity.