Lynx Vision

Science Signaling  30 Nov 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 150, pp. ec365
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3150ec365

Early in development, correct visual experiences during the so-called “critical period” build the foundations for visual function in adulthood. Hence, when one eye is not working together with the other, an adult may be left with imperfect vision. The plasticity characteristic of the critical period does not persist into adulthood, and later readjustments to visual function may not be fully successful. Morishita et al. (see the Perspective by Higley and Strittmatter) have identified a gene in mice called Lynx1, which shows increased expression after the critical period. The Lynx1 protein binds to and reduces the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors, but if mice were treated to enhance cholinergic signaling, their adult visual plasticity was improved, and if mice lacked the Lynx1 gene altogether, they were able to recover visual function even in adulthood.

H. Morishita, J. M. Miwa, N. Heintz, T. K. Hensch, Lynx1, a cholinergic brake, limits plasticity in adult visual cortex. Science 330, 1238–1240 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. J. Higley, S. M. Strittmatter, Lynx for braking plasticity. Science 330, 1189–1190 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]