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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 651469, 11 pages
Research Article

CREB Regulates Experience-Dependent Spine Formation and Enlargement in Mouse Barrel Cortex

1Laboratory of Psychobiology, Santa Lucia Foundation, 00143 Rome, Italy
2“Tor Vergata” University, 00173 Rome, Italy
3Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology (IBCN), National Research Council, 00015 Rome, Italy

Received 11 February 2015; Revised 31 March 2015; Accepted 1 April 2015

Academic Editor: Lucas Pozzo-Miller

Copyright © 2015 Annabella Pignataro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Experience modifies synaptic connectivity through processes that involve dendritic spine rearrangements in neuronal circuits. Although cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) has a key function in spines changes, its role in activity-dependent rearrangements in brain regions of rodents interacting with the surrounding environment has received little attention so far. Here we studied the effects of vibrissae trimming, a widely used model of sensory deprivation-induced cortical plasticity, on processes associated with dendritic spine rearrangements in the barrel cortex of a transgenic mouse model of CREB downregulation (mCREB mice). We found that sensory deprivation through prolonged whisker trimming leads to an increased number of thin spines in the layer V of related barrel cortex (Contra) in wild type but not mCREB mice. In the barrel field controlling spared whiskers (Ipsi), the same trimming protocol results in a CREB-dependent enlargement of dendritic spines. Last, we demonstrated that CREB regulates structural rearrangements of synapses that associate with dynamic changes of dendritic spines. Our findings suggest that CREB plays a key role in dendritic spine dynamics and synaptic circuits rearrangements that account for new brain connectivity in response to changes in the environment.