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Experience-dependent plasticity is a key feature of brain synapses for which neuronal N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptors (NMDARs) play a major role, from developmental circuit refinement to learning and memory. Astrocytes also express NMDARs, although their exact function has remained controversial. Here, we identify in mouse hippocampus, a circuit function for GluN2C NMDAR, a subtype highly expressed in astrocytes, in layer-specific tuning of synaptic strengths in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Interfering with astrocyte NMDAR or GluN2C NMDAR activity reduces the range of presynaptic strength distribution specifically in the stratum radiatum inputs without an appreciable change in the mean presynaptic strength. Mathematical modeling shows that narrowing of the width of presynaptic release probability distribution compromises the expression of long-term synaptic plasticity. Our findings suggest a novel feedback signaling system that uses astrocyte GluN2C NMDARs to adjust basal synaptic weight distribution of Schaffer collateral inputs, which in turn impacts computations performed by the CA1 pyramidal neuron. © 2021, Chipman et al.


Peter H Chipman, Chi Chung Alan Fung, Alejandra Pazo Fernandez, Abhilash Sawant, Angelo Tedoldi, Atsushi Kawai, Sunita Ghimire Gautam, Mizuki Kurosawa, Manabu Abe, Kenji Sakimura, Tomoki Fukai, Yukiko Goda. Astrocyte GluN2C NMDA receptors control basal synaptic strengths of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons in the stratum radiatum. eLife. 2021 Oct 25;10

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PMID: 34693906

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