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An important role for the neural extracellular matrix in modulating cortical activity-dependent synaptic plasticity has been established by a number of recent studies. However, identification of the critical molecular components of the neural matrix that mediate these processes is far from complete. Of particular interest is the perineuronal net (PN), an extracellular matrix component found surrounding the cell body and proximal neurites of a subset of neurons. Because of the apposition of thePNto synapses and expression of this structure coincident with the close of the critical period, it has been hypothesized that nets could play uniquely important roles in synapse stabilization and maturation. Interestingly, previous work has also shown that expression of PNs is dependent on appropriate sensory stimulation in the visual system. Here, we investigated whether PNs in the mouse barrel cortex are expressed in an activity-dependent manner by manipulating sensory input through whisker trimming. Importantly, this manipulation did not lead to a global loss of PNs but instead led to a specific decrease in PNs, detected with the antibody Cat-315, in layer IV of the barrel cortex. In addition, we identified a key activity-regulated component of PNs is the proteoglycan aggrecan. We also demonstrate that these Cat-315-positive neurons virtually all also express parvalbumin. Together, these data are in support of an important role for aggrecan in the activity-dependent formation of PNs on parvalbumin-expressing cells and suggest a role for expression of these nets in regulating the close of the critical period.


Originally published as: McRae, Patricia; Rocco, Mary M.; Brumberg Joshua C; and Mathews, Russell T. "Sensory Deprivation Alters Aggrecan Expression and Perineuronal Net Formation in the Mouse Barrel Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 27, 2007, pp. 5405-5413. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5425-06.2007.

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