Genetic control of experience-dependent plasticity in the visual cortex

J. A. Heimel*, J. M. Hermans, J. P. Sommeijer, A. B. Brussaard, J. G. Borst, Y. Elgersma, N. Galjart, G. T. van der Horst, C. N. Levelt, C. M. Pennartz, A. B. Smit, B. M. Spruijt, M. Verhage, C. I. de Zeeuw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Depriving one eye of visual experience during a sensitive period of development results in a shift in ocular dominance (OD) in the primary visual cortex (V1). To assess the heritability of this form of cortical plasticity and identify the responsible gene loci, we studied the influence of monocular deprivation on OD in a large number of recombinant inbred mouse strains derived from mixed C57BL/6J and DBA/2J backgrounds (BXD). The strength of imaged intrinsic signal responses in V1 to visual stimuli was strongly heritable as were various elements of OD plasticity. This has important implications for the use of mice of mixed genetic backgrounds for studying OD plasticity. C57BL/6J showed the most significant shift in OD, while some BXD strains did not show any shift at all. Interestingly, the increase in undeprived ipsilateral eye responses was not correlated to the decrease in deprived contralateral eye responses, suggesting that the size of these components of OD plasticity are not genetically controlled by only a single mechanism. We identified a quantitative trait locus regulating the change in response to the deprived eye. The locus encompasses 13 genes, two of which - Stch and Nrip1 - contain missense polymorphisms. The expression levels of Stch and to a lesser extent Nrip1 in whole brain correlate with the trait identifying them as novel candidate plasticity genes. © 2008 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-923
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

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