Role of Immediate Early Gene Expression in Cortical Morphogenesis and Plasticity
During the development of the central nervous system, there is a fundamental requirement for synaptic activity in transforming immature neuronal connections into organized functional circuits (Katz 1996). The molecular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent adaptive changes in neurons are believed to involve regulated cascades of gene expression. Immediate early genes (IEGs) comprise the initial cascade of gene expression responsible for initiating the process of stimulus-induced adaptive change, and were identified initially as transcription factors that were regulated in brain by excitatory synaptic activity. More recently, a class of neuronal immediate early genes has been identified that encodes growth factors, signaling molecules, extracellular matrix and adhesion proteins, and cytoskeletal proteins that are rapidly and transiently expressed in response to glutamatergic neurotransmission. This review focuses on the neuronal immediate early gene (nIEG) response, in particular, the class of “effector” immediate early gene proteins that may directly modify neuronal and synaptic function.
KeywordsNMDA Receptor Visual Cortex Synaptic Activity Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Early Gene Expression
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