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BTBD3 Controls Dendrite Orientation Toward Active Axons in Mammalian Neocortex

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Science  29 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6162, pp. 1114-1118
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244505

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Neuronal Activity and Dendrite Development

How does the developing brain establish the correct connections? Matsui et al. (p. 1114, published online 31 October) discovered an activity-dependent transcription mechanism during mouse and ferret visual cortex development that controls the direction of dendrite orientation, allowing dendrites to steer toward active axons and away from inactive axons. This mechanism enables the construction of polarized neuronal shapes for integration into neural circuits with the required finescale architecture to process subtle activity patterns, a property underlying complex behavior.

Abstract

Experience-dependent structural changes in the developing brain are fundamental for proper neural circuit formation. Here, we show that during the development of the sensory cortex, dendritic field orientation is controlled by the BTB/POZ domain–containing 3 (BTBD3). In developing mouse somatosensory cortex, endogenous Btbd3 translocated to the cell nucleus in response to neuronal activity and oriented primary dendrites toward active axons in the barrel hollow. Btbd3 also directed dendrites toward active axon terminals when ectopically expressed in mouse visual cortex or normally expressed in ferret visual cortex. BTBD3 regulation of dendrite orientation is conserved across species and cortical areas and shows how high-acuity sensory function may be achieved by the tuning of subcellular polarity to sources of high sensory activity.

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