Koh DX and Sng JC
During early postnatal development, neuronal circuits are sculpted by sensory experience provided by the external environment. This experience-dependent regulation of circuitry development consolidates the balance of excitatory-inhibitory (E/I) neurons in the brain. The cortical barrel-column that innervates a single principal whisker is used to provide a clear reference frame for studying the consolidation of E/I circuitry. Sensory deprivation of S1 at birth disrupts the consolidation of excitatory-inhibitory balance by decreasing inhibitory transmission of parvalbumin interneurons. The molecular mechanisms underlying this decrease in inhibition are not completely understood. Our findings show that epigenetic mechanisms, in particular histone deacetylation by histone deacetylases, negatively regulate the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) and parvalbumin (Pvalb) genes during development, which are required for the maturation of parvalbumin interneurons. After whisker deprivation, increased histone deacetylase 1 expression and activity led to increased histone deacetylase 1 binding and decreased histone acetylation at Bdnf promoters I-IV and Pvalb promoter, resulting in the repression of Bdnf and Pvalb gene transcription. The decrease in Bdnf expression further affected parvalbumin interneuron maturation at layer II/III in S1, demonstrated by decreased parvalbumin expression, a marker for parvalbumin interneuron maturation. Knockdown of HDAC1 recovered Bdnf and Pvalb gene transcription and also prevented the decrease of inhibitory synapses accompanying whisker deprivation.