Tachykinin-immunoreactive neurons are a subgroup of the GABA neuronal population in layer IVC of monkey primary visual cortex. Following brief periods of monocular deprivation in adult monkeys, immunoreactivity for both GABA and tachykinins is dramatically reduced in layer IV cells that lie within the deprived ocular dominance columns of this cortical area. The present study shows that these activity-dependent changes are associated with changes in mRNA levels but over different time courses. Radioactive antisense riboprobes derived from monkey-specific cDNAs were used to localize glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and β-preprotachykinin (βPPT) mRNAs by in situ hybridization histochemistry. GAD and βPPT mRNAs decreased in deprived ocular dominance columns of adult monkeys when neural activity was abolished in one eye by intraocular injections of tetrodotoxin (TTX). βPPT mRNA levels fell within 5 d of deprivation and thus appeared to parallel the fall in immunodetectable tachykinin levels. By contrast, reduced GAD mRNA levels were detectable only after 15 d of deprivation and long after the fall in immunoreactive GAD and GABA levels has maximized. These results suggest that tachykinin gene expression is regulated by transcriptional mechanisms as part of the first response to reduced neural activity whereas the initial downregulation of immunoreactive GAD and GABA depends on posttranscriptional mechanisms. Following a more prolonged period of deprivation, a secondary mechanism for GAD regulation appears to be engaged at the level of gene transcription or possibly by changes in mRNA stability.

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