Activity-dependent regulation of substance P expression and topographic map maintenance by a cholinergic pathway

Shichun Tu, Christopher M. Butt, James R. Pauly, Elizabeth A. Debski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We have assessed the role of activity in the adult frog visual system in modulating two aspects of neuronal plasticity: neurotransmitter expression and topographic map maintenance. Chronic treatment of one tectal lobe with the non-NMDA receptor antagonist, 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione decreased the percentage of substance P-like immunoreactive (SP-IR) tectal cells in the untreated lobe while disrupting topographic map formation in the treated one. Treatment with the NMDA receptor antagonist D-(-)-2,amino-5- phosphonovaleric acid (D-AP-5) disrupted the topographic map but had no affect on SP-IR cells. These results indicate that maintenance of the topographic map is dependent on direct input from the glutamatergic retinal ganglion cells, whereas substance P (SP) expression is being regulated by a pathway that relays activity from one tectal lobe to the other. Such a pathway is provided by the cholinergic nucleus isthmi, which is reciprocally connected to the ipsilateral tectum and sends a projection to the contralateral one. Mecamylamine and atropine, antagonists of nicotinic and muscarinic receptors, respectively, were used together to block all cholinergic activity or alone to block receptor subclass activity. All three treatments decreased SP expression and disrupted the topographic map in the treated tectal lobe. We conclude that both SP expression and topographic map maintenance in the adult optic tectum are activity-dependent processes. Although our results are consistent with the maintenance of the topographic map through an NMDA receptor-based mechanism, they suggest that SP expression is regulated by a cholinergic interaction that depends on retinal ganglion cell input only for its activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5346-5357
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2000


  • Autoradiography
  • Elvax
  • Muscarinic receptor
  • NMDA receptor
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter expression
  • Nicotinic receptor
  • Non-NMDA receptor
  • Nucleus isthmi
  • Optic tectum
  • Pipiens
  • Retinotectal topography
  • Visual plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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