Lausanne Neuroscience Seminar


Event details

Date 05.09.2013 17:0018:30  
Speaker Dr. Carla J. Shatz
Category Conferences - Seminars
Surprise at the Synapse: MHC Class I, Synaptic Pruning and Plasticity

Connections in adult brain are highly precise, but they do not start out that way. Precision emerges during development as synaptic connections remodel in a process requiring neural activity (action potentials and synaptic transmission). Activity also regulates neuronal gene expression. In an unbiased screen, Major Histocompatibility Class I (MHCI) genes were unexpectedly discovered to be in neurons, at synapses and regulated by activity and visual experience (Corriveau et al, 1998). To assess requirements for MHCI in CNS, mutant mice lacking stable surface expression of all MHCI, or of specific MHCI genes Kb and Db, were examined. Synapse pruning in developing visual system fails, and ocular dominance (OD) plasticity in visual cortex is greater than in WT (Huh et al, 2000; Datwani et al, 2009). In a search for receptors that could interact with neuronal MHCI, PirB, an innate immune receptor, was found expressed in neurons throughout mouse CNS. In mutant mice lacking PirB, OD plasticity is enhanced (Syken et al., 2006), LTP and LTD are altered, and spine density on L Pyramidal neurons is increased. Thus, PirB, like MHCI, appears to act to “brake” synaptic plasticity. The commonality of phenotypes present in these mice suggests a model (Shatz, 2009) in which PirB may bind and transduce signals from MHCI ligands in neurons. Together, results imply that this family of molecules, thought previously to function only in immunity, may also act at neuronal synapses to limit how much- or how quickly- synapse strength changes in response to new experience. These molecules may be crucial for controlling circuit excitability and stability in developing as well as adult brain. Changes in their function could contribute to developmental disorders such as Autism and Schizophrenia.

An aperitif will follow

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Prof. Carmen Sandi


  • Prof. Carmen Sandi

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