Neural circuits underlying brain functions are vulnerable to damage, including ischemic injury, leading to neuronal loss and gliosis. Recent technology of direct conversion of endogenous astrocytes into neurons in situ can simultaneously replenish the neuronal population and reverse the glial scar. However, whether these newly reprogrammed neurons undergo normal development, integrate into the existing neuronal circuit, and acquire functional properties specific for this circuit is not known. We investigated the effect of NeuroD1-mediated in vivo direct reprogramming on visual cortical circuit integration and functional recovery in a mouse model of ischemic injury. After performing electrophysiological extracellular recordings and two-photon calcium imaging of reprogrammed cells in vivo and mapping the synaptic connections formed onto these cells ex vivo, we discovered that NeuroD1 reprogrammed neurons were integrated into the cortical microcircuit and acquired direct visual responses. Furthermore, following visual experience, the reprogrammed neurons demonstrated maturation of orientation selectivity and functional connectivity. Our results show that NeuroD1-reprogrammed neurons can successfully develop and integrate into the visual cortical circuit leading to vision recovery after ischemic injury.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology