The Arc gene is robustly transcribed in specific neural ensembles in response to experience-driven activity. Upon induction, Arc mRNA is transported to dendrites, where it can be rapidly and locally translated by activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1/5). mGluR-induced dendritic synthesis of Arc is implicated in weakening or elimination of excitatory synapses by triggering endocytosis of postsynaptic AMPARs in both hippocampal CA1 and cerebellar Purkinje neurons. Importantly, CA1 neurons with experience-induced Arc mRNA are susceptible, or primed for mGluR-induced long-term synaptic depression (mGluR-LTD). Here we review mechanisms and function of Arc in mGluR-LTD and synapse elimination and propose roles for these forms of plasticity in Arc-dependent formation of sparse neural representations of learned experience. We also discuss accumulating evidence linking dysregulation of Arc and mGluR-LTD in human cognitive disorders such as intellectual disability, autism and Alzheimer's disease.
- Long-term synaptic depression
- Synapse elimination
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology