Synapse elimination and learning rules co-regulated by MHC class I H2-Db

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The formation of precise connections between retina and lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) involves the activity-dependent elimination of some synapses, with strengthening and retention of others. Here we show that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule H2-Db is necessary and sufficient for synapse elimination in the retinogeniculate system. In mice lacking both H2-Kb and H2-Db (KbDb−/−), despite intact retinal activity and basal synaptic transmission, the developmentally regulated decrease in functional convergence of retinal ganglion cell synaptic inputs to LGN neurons fails and eye-specific layers do not form. Neuronal expression of just H2-Db in KbDb−/− mice rescues both synapse elimination and eye-specific segregation despite a compromised immune system. When patterns of stimulation mimicking endogenous retinal waves are used to probe synaptic learning rules at retinogeniculate synapses, long-term potentiation (LTP) is intact but long-term depression (LTD) is impaired in KbDb−/− mice. This change is due to an increase in Ca2+-permeable AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid) receptors. Restoring H2-Db to KbDb−/− neurons renders AMPA receptors Ca2+ impermeable and rescues LTD. These observations reveal an MHC-class-I-mediated link between developmental synapse pruning and balanced synaptic learning rules enabling both LTD and LTP, and demonstrate a direct requirement for H2-Db in functional and structural synapse pruning in CNS neurons.

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