The proper formation of synaptic connectivity in the mammalian brain is critical for complex behavior. In the striatum, balanced excitatory synaptic transmission from multiple sources onto two classes of principal neurons is required for coordinated and voluntary motor control. Here we show that the interaction between the secreted semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) and its receptor Plexin-D1 is a critical determinant of synaptic specificity in cortico-thalamo-striatal circuits in mice. We find that Sema3e (encoding Sema3E) is highly expressed in thalamostriatal projection neurons, whereas in the striatumPlxnd1 (encoding Plexin-D1) is selectively expressed in direct-pathway medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Despite physical intermingling of the MSNs, genetic ablation of Plxnd1 or Sema3e results in functional and anatomical rearrangement of thalamostriatal synapses specifically in direct-pathway MSNs without effects on corticostriatal synapses. Thus, our results demonstrate that Sema3E and Plexin-D1 specify the degree of glutamatergic connectivity between a specific source and target in the complex circuitry of the basal ganglia.

Source Institution: Harvard Medical School
Source Author: Jun B Ding & Won-Jong Oh
Original Link: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v15/n2/full/nn.3003.html