The proper formation and morphogenesis of dendrites is essential to the establishment of neuronal connectivity. We report that 2 members of the Pea3 family of transcription factors, Etv4 and Etv5, are expressed in hippocampal neurons during the main period of dendritogenesis, suggesting that they have a function in dendrite development. Here, we show that these transcription factors are physiological regulators of growth and arborization of pyramidal cell dendrites in the developing hippocampus. Gain and loss of function assays indicate that Etv4 and Etv5 are required for proper development of hippocampal dendritic arbors and spines. We have found that in vivo deletion of either Etv4 or Etv5 in hippocampal neurons causes deficits in dendrite size and complexity, which are associated with impaired cognitive function. Additionally, our data support the idea that Etv4 and Etv5 are part of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor–mediated transcriptional program required for proper hippocampal dendrite connectivity and plasticity.

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