Illuminating the multifaceted roles of neurotransmission in shaping neuronal circuitry

Haruhisa Okawa, Mrinalini Hoon, Takeshi Yoshimatsu, Luca Della Santina, Rachel O.L. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Across the nervous system, neurons form highly stereotypic patterns of synaptic connections that are designed to serve specific functions. Mature wiring patterns are often attained upon the refinement of early, less precise connectivity. Much work has led to the prevailing view that many developing circuits are sculpted by activity-dependent competition among converging afferents, which results in the elimination of unwanted synapses and the maintenance and strengthening of desired connections. Studies of the vertebrate retina, however, have recently revealed that activity can play a role in shaping developing circuits without engaging competition among converging inputs that differ in their activity levels. Such neurotransmission-mediated processes can produce stereotypic wiring patterns by promoting selective synapse formation rather than elimination. We discuss how the influence of transmission may also be limited by circuit design and further highlight the importance of transmission beyond development in maintaining wiring specificity and synaptic organization of neural circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1318
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


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