Homeostatic plasticity shapes the visual system's first synapse

Robert E. Johnson, Nai Wen Tien, Ning Shen, James T. Pearson, Florentina Soto, Daniel Kerschensteiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Vision in dim light depends on synapses between rods and rod bipolar cells (RBCs). Here, we find that these synapses exist in multiple configurations, in which single release sites of rods are apposed by one to three postsynaptic densities (PSDs). Single RBCs often form multiple PSDs with one rod; and neighboring RBCs share ~13% of their inputs. Rod-RBC synapses develop while ~7% of RBCs undergo programmed cell death (PCD). Although PCD is common throughout the nervous system, its influences on circuit development and function are not well understood. We generate mice in which ~53 and ~93% of RBCs, respectively, are removed during development. In these mice, dendrites of the remaining RBCs expand in graded fashion independent of light-evoked input. As RBC dendrites expand, they form fewer multi-PSD contacts with rods. Electrophysiological recordings indicate that this homeostatic co-regulation of neurite and synapse development preserves retinal function in dim light.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1220
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


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