Patchy Distribution of NMDAR1 Subunit Immunoreactivity in Developing Visual Cortex
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Development of ocular dominance columns is dependent on patterned retinal activity, and yet patterned activity alone cannot explain all aspects of cortical column development. Features intrinsic to the cortex have been proposed to interact with activity to guide the patterning of cortical columns (), and the NMDA receptor, because of its role in experience-dependent plasticity, is an obvious candidate. Using immunohistochemical techniques, we found a transiently patchy distribution of the NMDA receptor 1 (NMDAR1) subunit in kitten visual cortex. Regularly spaced patches of NMDAR1-immunoreactive neurons were found at the top of the cortical plate in the developing visual cortex at 2 weeks of age. At 4-5 weeks of age, the radial extent of the NMDAR1 patches spanned the supragranular layers, and by 12 weeks of age, this nonuniform pattern of NMDAR1 immunostaining was no longer apparent. Monocular visual experience prevented the expression of the NMDAR1 patches, but just 4 d of subsequent binocular visual experience was sufficient to promote expression of the patches. Furthermore, the NMDAR1 patches tended to be associated with the borders of ocular dominance columns. These results suggest that the degree of plasticity associated with NMDA-mediated mechanisms is elevated in local regions across the tangential extent of the visual cortex and that the NMDAR1 patches may participate in sculpting the overall arrangement of visual cortical columns.
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