Experience remodels cortical connectivity during developmental windows called critical periods. Experience-dependent regulation of synaptic strength during these periods establishes circuit functions that are stabilized as critical period plasticity wanes. These processes have been extensively studied in the developing visual cortex, where critical period opening and closure are orchestrated by the assembly, maturation, and strengthening of distinct synapse types. The synaptic specificity of these processes points towards the involvement of distinct molecular pathways. Attractive candidates are pre-and postsynaptic transmembrane proteins that form adhesive complexes across the synaptic cleft. These synapse-organizing proteins control synapse development and maintenance and modulate structural and functional properties of synapses. Recent evidence suggests that they have pivotal roles in the onset and closure of the critical period for vision. In this review, we describe roles of synapse-organizing adhesion molecules in the regulation of visual critical period plasticity and we discuss the potential they offer to restore circuit functions in amblyopia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
|State||Published - 2019|