Experience-dependent maturation of the glomerular microcircuit

Brady J. Maher, Matthew J. McGinley, Gary L. Westbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Spontaneous and patterned activity, largely attributed to chemical transmission, shape the development of virtually all neural circuits. However, electrical transmission also has an important role in coordinated activity in the brain. In the olfactory bulb, gap junctions between apical dendrites of mitral cells increase excitability and synchronize firing within each glomerulus. We report here that the development of the glomerular microcircuit requires both sensory experience and connexin (Cx)36-mediated gap junctions. Coupling coefficients, which measure electrical coupling between mitral cell dendrites, were high in young mice, but decreased after postnatal day (P)10 because of a maturational increase in membrane conductance. Sensory deprivation, induced by unilateral naris occlusion at birth, slowed the morphological development of mitral cells and arrested the maturational changes in membrane conductance and coupling coefficients. As the coupling coefficients decreased in normal mice, a glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) between mitral cells emerged by P30. Although mitral-mitral EPSCs were generally unidirectional, they were not present in young adult Cx36-/- mice, suggesting that gap junctions are required for the development and/or function of the mature circuit. The experience-dependent transition from electrical transmission to combined chemical and electrical transmission provides a previously unappreciated mechanism that may tune the response properties of the glomerular microcircuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16865-16870
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 29 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Connexin 36
  • EPSC
  • Gap junctions
  • Mitral cells
  • Olfactory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Experience-dependent maturation of the glomerular microcircuit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this