Experience can alter synaptic connectivity throughout life, but the degree of plasticity present at each age is regulated by mechanisms that remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that Paired-immunoglobulin-like receptor B (PirB), a major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) receptor, is expressed in subsets of neurons throughout the brain. Neuronal PirB protein is associated with synapses and forms complexes with the phosphatases Shp-1 and Shp-2. Soluble PirB fusion protein binds to cortical neurons in an MHCI-dependent manner. In mutant mice lacking functional PirB, cortical ocular-dominance plasticity is more robust at all ages. Thus, an MHCI receptor is expressed in central nervous system neurons and functions to limit the extent of experience-dependent plasticity in the visual cortex throughout life. PirB is also expressed in many other regions of the central nervous system, suggesting that it may function broadly to stabilize neural circuits.
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