The long-term goal of this research is to understand how experience during critical periods of brain development, mediated by the functioning of neural circuits, is translated into lasting structural change in synaptic connectivity. The specific hypothesis under study here is that MHC Class I genes (MHCI;HLA in human) expressed in neurons and at synapses act as a negative regulators to limit activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. The idea that there are molecules and signaling pathways normally working to oppose synaptic plasticity is novel and has significant therapeutic implications. MHCI genes are famous for their role in cell-mediated immunity, but here we study a novel role in neurons. Neuronal MHCI expression in the CNS was discovered unexpectedly in an unbiased screen for genes regulated by neural activity in development. Initial studies in mice provided indirect evidence for a role for these molecules in synaptic plasticity (Huh et al, 2000). Research during the past funding period has revealed that loss of function of just 2 of the 60+ MHCI genes, H2-Kb and/or H2-Db, alters synaptic plasticity rules, unexpectedly often enhancing plasticity and learning (McConnell et al, 2009).
Three specific aims are planned: 1) Demonstrate requirement for H2- Db, H2-Kb in synaptic plasticity: Double mutant mice (KbDB-/-) will be studied to determine if these 2 genes can account for many of the changes in synaptic plasticity observed in initial studies of mice lacking surface expression of the majority of MHCI proteins. Mice overexpressing H2-Db will also be examined. Rescue experiments will be performed: Double transgenic mice (NSE-Db+/+;KbDb-/-) have been generated in which Db function is rescued only in neurons. GFP-tagged full-length cDNAs for H2-Kb or H2-Db will be expressed using Lentiviral vectors. 2) Determine if MHCI protein is located at synapses: A working model for neuronal MHCI suggests that MHCI protein located postsynaptically binds across the synapse to presynaptic receptors such as PirB. Immunostaining with MHCI antibodies will be used to examine synaptic distribution. Array Tomography (AT) will be used for higher resolution localization of MHCI protein in direct relation to multiple synaptic markers, as well as to PirB. Biochemical fractionation and Western Blotting will also be used to assess subcellular localization of MHCI and potential interacting partners. 3) Generate a conditional allele of H2-Db for studies of neuronal function: A transgenic mouse will be generated to obtain brain and neuronal cell-type specific knockouts for further study of requirement and specificity of H2-D in neurons. All experiments will make use of electrophysiological, anatomical and imaging studies of mouse visual system in vivo and in vitro to assess activity-dependent synapse development and plasticity. By studying mice with gain- or loss- of MHCI function, these experiments should help to establish whether and where H2-Kb and H2-Db are required normally in neurons and should permit a more systematic investigation of the function of specific MHCI molecules in the brain. 7.
/Relevance 2-3 sentences Results from experiments proposed here will broaden understanding of how experience-dependent alterations at synapses, both during critical periods of learning in childhood and in memory formation throughout life, are ultimately encoded in the structure of neural circuits. Understanding molecules and mechanisms involved is crucial for addressing and ultimately curing disorders of learning and memory, from Dyslexia, Autism and other childhood neurological disorders, to Alzheimers'and other memory dysfunction in the aging brain. Moreover, neuronal MHCI is known to be modulated by inflammation and can be recognized by cells of the immune system, providing a direct means of communication between the nervous and the immune systems in both health and disease. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Results from experiments proposed here will broaden understanding of how experience- dependent alterations at synapses, both during critical periods of learning in childhood and in memory formation throughout life, are ultimately encoded in the structure of neural circuits. Understanding molecules and mechanisms involved is crucial for addressing and ultimately curing disorders of learning and memory, from Dyslexia, Autism and other childhood neurological disorders, to Alzheimers'and other memory dysfunction in the aging brain. Moreover, neuronal MHCI is known to be modulated by inflammation and can be recognized by cells of the immune system, providing a direct means of communication between the nervous and the immune systems in both health and disease.
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|Datwani, Akash; McConnell, Michael J; Kanold, Patrick O et al. (2009) Classical MHCI molecules regulate retinogeniculate refinement and limit ocular dominance plasticity. Neuron 64:463-70|
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