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Thesis defense – Tiago Campelo

7 October 2019 / 09:30

From AMPAR lateral diffusion to whisker perception: a new model for cortical remapping

Venue: centre Broca Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Thesis supervisor : Daniel Choquet


Tiago Campelo

Neuronal receptive fields in the cerebral cortex change in response to peripheral injury, with active modalities gaining cortical space at the expense of less active ones. Experiments on the mouse whisker-to-barrel cortex system provided important evidences about the synaptic mechanisms driving this cortical remapping. Under normal conditions, neurons in each barrel-column have receptive fields that are strongly tuned towards one principal whisker (PW). However, trimming all the whiskers except one (single-whisker experience, SWE) causes layer (L) 2/3 pyramidal neurons located in the deprived and spared-related columns to increase their response towards the spared input. This results in a strengthening and expansion of the spared whisker representation within the barrel sensory map. Indirect evidences suggest that these cortical alterations might depend on the activity-dependent potentiation of pre-existing excitatory synapses (LTP), likely through increased levels of postsynaptic AMPA receptors (AMPARs). However, a clear link between LTP, cortical remapping, and the adaptation of sensorimotor skills following altered sensory experience has not yet convincingly been demonstrated. Here, we combined in vivo whole-cell recordings, 2-Photon calcium imaging and a whisker-dependent behavior protocol to directly demonstrate this relationship. It has been described that rhythmic whisker stimulation potentiates cortical synapses (RWS-LTP) in vivo. An accumulation of postsynaptic AMPARs during similar sensory stimulation was also reported by imaging evidences. Our data demonstrates that this potentiation is occluded by SWE, suggesting that cortical synapses are already potentiated by this trimming protocol. This is translated into an increased neuronal excitability in the spared column and sensorimotor recovery by the spared whisker. To better understand the implication of LTP in cortical remapping, we developed a novel approach to manipulate LTP in vivo without affecting overall circuit properties. Our team showed previously that the blockage of AMPARs synaptic recruitment by extracellular antibody cross-linking prevents LTP in vitro. Here, we report that in vivo cross-linking of AMPARs blocks the expression but not the induction of RWS-LTP, suggesting that the synaptic recruitment of AMPARs is fundamental for in vivo LTP as well. Moreover, chronic AMPAR cross-linking during SWE reverts RWS-LTP occlusion and the increased neuronal excitability caused by whisker trimming. As consequence, the sensorimotor performance by the spared whisker is permanently impaired by the blockage of cortical remapping. Altogether, these evidences led us to define a critical role for synaptic LTP on circuit re-arrangement after whisker trimming. Our data shows that LTP-driven cortical remapping is a compensatory mechanism to optimize animal’s sensorimotor behavior upon altered sensory experience.

Keywords: AMPAR; Synaptic Plasticity; LTP; Cortical Remapping; In vivo Patch Clamp; In vivo 2-Photon imaging


– Professor Richard Huganir, PhD
– Professor Anthony Holtmaat, PhD
– Isabelle Ferezou, PhD
– Julie Perroy, PhD
– Jérôme Baufreton, PhD

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7 October 2019
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