Inhibition of ocular dominance column formation by infusion of NT-4/5 or BDNF

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Science  17 Mar 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5204, pp. 1662-1666
DOI: 10.1126/science.7886458


During the development of the visual system of higher mammals, axons from the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) become segregated into eye-specific patches (the ocular dominance columns) within their target, layer 4 of the primary visual cortex. This occurs as a consequence of activity-dependent synaptic competition between axons representing the two eyes. The possibility that this competition could be mediated through neurotrophin-receptor interactions was tested. Infusion of neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) into cat primary visual cortex inhibited column formation within the immediate vicinity of the infusion site but not elsewhere in the visual cortex. Infusion of nerve growth factor, neurotrophin 3 (NT-3), or vehicle solution did not affect column formation. These observations implicate TrkB, the common receptor for BDNF and NT-4/5, in the segregation of LGN axons into ocular dominance columns in layer 4. Moreover, they suggest that in addition to their better known roles in the prevention of cell death, neurotrophins may also mediate the activity-dependent control of axonal branching during development of the central nervous system.

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