The Regulation of Corticofugal Fiber Targeting by Retinal Inputs


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Abstract

Corticothalamic projection systems arise from 2 main cortical layers. Layer V neurons project exclusively to higher-order thalamic nuclei, while layer VIa fibers project to both first-order and higher-order thalamic nuclei. During early postnatal development, layer VIa and VIb fibers accumulate at the borders of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) before they innervate it. After neonatal monocular enucleation or silencing of the early retinal activity, there is premature entry of layer VIa and VIb fibers into the dLGN contralateral to the manipulation. Layer V fibers do not innervate the superficial gray layer of the superior colliculus during the first postnatal week, but also demonstrate premature entry to the contralateral superficial gray layer following neonatal enucleation. Normally, layer V driver projections to the thalamus only innervate higher-order nuclei. Our results demonstrate that removal of retinal input from the dLGN induces cortical layer V projections to aberrantly enter, arborize, and synapse within the first-order dLGN. These results suggest that there is cross-hierarchical corticothalamic plasticity after monocular enucleation. Cross-hierarchical rewiring has been previously demonstrated in the thalamocortical system (Pouchelon et al. 2014), and now we provide evidence for cross-hierarchical corticothalamic rewiring after loss of the peripheral sensory input.

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