Up regulation of cAMP response element-mediated gene expression during experience-dependent plasticity in adult neocortex

Alison L. Barth, Mervyn McKenna, Stanislaw Glazewski, Penelope Hill, Soren Impey, Daniel Storm, Kevin Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Gene transcription is thought to be essential for memory consolidation and long-lasting changes in synaptic function. In particular, the signal transduction pathways that activate the transcription factor cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) have been implicated in the process of synaptic potentiation. To study the involvement of this pathway in neocortical plasticity within the barrel cortex, we have used a strain of mice carrying a LacZ reporter gene with six cAMP response elements (CREs) upstream of a minimal promoter. Removal of all but one facial whisker results in the expansion of the spared whisker's functional representation within somatosensory cortex. Under the same conditions of whisker deprivation, we observed a strong (eightfold compared with baseline) and highly place- specific upregulation of CRE-mediated gene transcription in layer IV of the spared whisker barrel. Reporter gene upregulation occurred rapidly after deprivation (16 hr) and was only observed under experimental conditions capable of inducing whisker response potentiation. LacZ expression in layer IV was accompanied by an increase in responsiveness of a subpopulation of layers II/III cells to spared whisker stimulation as determined by in vivo single-unit recording. Given that CREB is involved in the expression of plasticity in superficial layers (Glazewski et al., 1999), and yet CRE- mediated gene expression occurs in layer IV, it is likely that the molecular events initiating plasticity occur presynaptically to the cells that exhibit changes in their receptive field properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4206-4216
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Barrel cortex
  • CREB
  • Experience-dependent plasticity
  • Gene expression
  • Gene regulation
  • Somatosensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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