The physiological role of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) in the central nervous system (CNS) synaptic function remains uncharacterized. Here we identify physiological roles of PDGF receptor-β (PDGFR-β) in the CNS by conditional knockout of the gene encoding it. In the hippocampus, PDGFR-β colocalized immunohistochemically with both presynaptic synaptophysin and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95). In the hippocampal CA1 region, expression levels of postsynaptic proteins, including spinophilin, drebrin, and PSD-95, were significantly decreased in PDGFR-β knockout mice, although presynaptic synaptophysin levels remained comparable to controls. Interestingly, in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, dendritic spine density in PDGFR-β knockout mice was significantly decreased compared with that seen in wild-type mice, although spine length and number of dendritic branches remained unchanged. Consistent with these findings, impairment in hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) and in hippocampus-dependent memory formation were seen in PDGFR-β knockout mice. These results suggest PDGFR-β plays critical roles in spine morphology and memory formation in mouse brain.
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