Journal of Comparative Neurology vol:425 issue:4 pages:531-44
The effect of binocular central retinal lesions on the expression of the immediate early genes c-fos and zif268 in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) and the visual cortex of adult cats was investigated by in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. In the deafferented region of the dLGN, the c-fos mRNA level was decreased within 3 days. The dimensions of the geniculate region showing decreased amounts of c-fos mRNA matched the predictions based on the lesion size and the retinotopic maps of Sanderson ( J. Comp. Neurol. 143:101-118). We did not detect zif268 mRNA in the dLGN. At the cortical level, both c-fos and zif268 mRNA expression decreased in the sensory-deprived region of area 17. In addition, the portions of areas 18, 19, 21a, 21b, and 7, as well as the posterior medial lateral suprasylvian area, the posterior lateral lateral suprasylvian area, the ventral lateral suprasylvian area, and the dorsal lateral suprasylvian area corresponding to the retinal lesions also displayed decreased c-fos and zif268 mRNA levels. Immunocytochemistry revealed similar changes for Zif268 and Fos protein. Three days post lesion, the dimensions of the lesion-affected cortical loci exceeded the predictions in relation to the size of the retinal lesions and the available retinotopic maps. Longer postlesion survival times clearly resulted in a time-dependent restoration of immediate early gene expression from the border to the center of the lesion-affected cortical portions. Our findings represent a new approach for investigating the capacity of adult sensory systems to undergo plastic changes following sensory deprivation and for defining the topographic nature of sensory subcortical and cortical structures.