Neuronal activity-regulated gene transcription in synapse development and cognitive function.
Activity-dependent plasticity of vertebrate neurons allows the brain to respond to its environment. During brain development, both spontaneous and sensory-driven neural activity are essential for instructively guiding the process of synapse development. These effects of neuronal activity are transduced in part through the concerted regulation of a set of activity-dependent transcription factors that coordinate a program of gene expression required for the formation and maturation of synapses. Here we review the cellular signaling networks that regulate the activity of transcription factors during brain development and discuss the functional roles of specific activity-regulated transcription factors in specific stages of synapse formation, refinement, and maturation. Interestingly, a number of neurodevelopmental disorders have been linked to abnormalities in activity-regulated transcriptional pathways, indicating that these signaling networks are critical for cognitive development and function.
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