Cellular and circuit hyperexcitability are core features of fragile X syndrome and related autism spectrum disorder models. However, the cellular and synaptic bases of this hyperexcitability have proved elusive. We report in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, glutamate uncaging onto individual dendritic spines yields stronger single-spine excitation than wild-type, with more silent spines. Furthermore, fewer spines are required to trigger an action potential with near-simultaneous uncaging at multiple spines. This is, in part, from increased dendritic gain due to increased intrinsic excitability, resulting from reduced hyperpolarization-activated currents, and increased NMDA receptor signaling. Using super-resolution microscopy we detect no change in dendritic spine morphology, indicating no structure-function relationship at this age. However, ultrastructural analysis shows a 3-fold increase in multiply-innervated spines, accounting for the increased single-spine glutamate currents. Thus, loss of FMRP causes abnormal synaptogenesis, leading to large numbers of poly-synaptic spines despite normal spine morphology, thus explaining the synaptic perturbations underlying circuit hyperexcitability.
- development of the nervous system
- diseases of the nervous system
- neuronal physiology
- somatosensory system
- spine regulation and structure