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Synaptic Gain Control at a Visual Synapse: Gated by Competition and Constrained Homeostatically


Visual information is relayed from retina to the brain at first order synapses within the lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN). During development, activity-dependent synaptic competition drives the segregation of retinal ganglion cell terminals into eye-specific zones. It has been assumed that the gain of synaptic transmission within these eye-specific zones is equivalent, providing uniform information transfer from the periphery to the CNS. Here, we revise this understanding. First, we demonstrate that anatomical segregation of retinal axons triggers a profound (200-300%) potentiation of neurotransmitter release selectively within the projection zone of the ipsilateral eye. Second, optogenetic recruitment of genetically defined axons within the ipsilateral projection zone provides evidence that functional synaptic connectivity is sub-stratified within the ipsilateral dLGN. Thus, we define a new functional organization within the dLGN and propose that synaptic competition acts as a developmental timer that triggers respecification of set point synaptic gain within the ipsilateral dLGN.

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