The postnatal development of protein kinase C isozymes II and III (PkCII/III) was investigted in the cat visual cortex by applying immunohistochemical methods with a monoclonal antibody against PkC(II/III).
PkC(II/III)-like immunoreactivity was found in astrocytes and neurons. All astrocytes but only a few of the immunoreactive neurons were homogeneously labelled. The majority of the latter exhibited a punctate distribution of reaction product. The staining pattern of neurons and glial cells showed developmental changes until at least 18 months of age. These were characterized by (1) a gradual increase of immunolabelled astrocytes, (2) an abrupt appearance of immunopositive neurons at 4 weeks of age, (3) an aggregation of immunolabelled neurons in a well-delineated band in lower layer IV between 4 weeks and 12 months of age, and (4) a decrease in number of PkC(II/III)-positive neurons after 12 months of age.
These developmental changes in the expression of PkC(II/III)-like immunoreactivity correlate well with the time course and the laminar selectivity of experience-dependent malleability. Moreover, they correspond closely to changes in several systems that contribute to PkC-activation and are thought to be involved in use-dependent neuronal plasticity. Thus, we consider these results as compatible with the hypothesis that the PkC isozymes II and III participate in cellular mechanisms underlying use-dependent plasticity.