At the molecular and circuitry levels, the cerebellum exhibits a striking parasagittal zonation as exemplified by the spatial distribution of molecules expressed on Purkinje cells and the topography of the afferent and efferent projections. The physiology and function of the zonation is less clear. Activity-dependent optical imaging has proven a useful tool to examine the physiological properties of the parasagittal zonation in the intact animal. Recent findings show that zebrin II-positive and zebrin II-negative zones differ markedly in their responses to parallel fiber inputs. These findings suggest that cerebellar cortical excitability, information processing, and synaptic plasticity depend on the intrinsic properties of different parasagittal zones.
Parasagittal zones; Cerebellar cortex; Parallel fibers; Purkinje cells; Zebrin II
The spatial organization of the cerebellar afferent map has remarkable correspondence to two aspects of intrinsic patterning within the cerebellum embodied by a series of lobules and Purkinje cell (PC) striped gene expression. Using male and female mice we tested whether the Engrailed (En) homeobox genes are a common genetic substrate regulating all three systems, since they are expressed in spatially restricted domains within the cerebellum and are critical for patterning PC gene expression and foliation. Indeed, we discovered that En1/2 are necessary for the precise targeting of mossy fibers to distinct lobules, as well as their subsequent resolution into discrete parasagittal bands. Moreover, each En gene coordinately regulates afferent targeting and the striped pattern of PC protein expression (e.g. ZebrinII/AldolaseC) independent of regulating foliation. We further found that En1/2, rather than the presence of a full complement of lobules are critical for generating PC protein stripes and mossy fiber bands, and that PC striped gene expression is determined prior to afferent banding. Thus, the En transcription factors not only regulate cerebellum circuit topography, but they also link afferent and efferent neurons precisely enough that alterations in PC protein expression can be used as a read out for underlying defects in circuitry. In summary, our data suggests that En1/2 are master regulators of 3-dimensional organization of the cerebellum and coordinately regulate morphology, patterned gene expression and afferent topography.
mossy fiber targeting; molecular code; foliation; Gli2
In the central nervous system, excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) localized to neurons and glia terminate the actions of synaptically released glutamate. Whereas glial transporters are primarily responsible for maintaining low ambient levels of extracellular glutamate, neuronal transporters have additional roles in shaping excitatory synaptic transmission. Here we test the hypothesis that the expression level of the Purkinje cell (PC)-specific transporter, EAAT4, near parallel fiber (PF) release sites controls the extrasynaptic glutamate concentration transient following synaptic stimulation. Expression of EAAT4 follows a parasagittal banding pattern that allows us to compare regions of high and low EAAT4-expressing PCs. Using EAAT4 promoter driven eGFP reporter mice together with pharmacology and genetic deletion, we show that the level of neuronal transporter expression influences extrasynaptic transmission from PFs to adjacent Bergmann glia (BG). Surprisingly, a twofold difference in functional EAAT4 levels is sufficient to alter signaling to BG although EAAT4 may only be responsible for removing a fraction of released glutamate. These results demonstrate that physiological regulation of neuronal transporter expression can alter extrasynaptic neuro-glial signaling.
synaptic transmission; Purkinje cell; parallel fiber; EAAT4
Due to the uniform cyto-architecture of the cerebellar cortex, its overall physiological characteristics have traditionally been considered to be homogeneous. In this study, we show in awake mice at rest that spiking activity of Purkinje cells, the sole output cells of the cerebellar cortex, differs between cerebellar modules and correlates with their expression of the glycolytic enzyme aldolase C or zebrin. Simple spike and complex spike frequencies were significantly higher in Purkinje cells located in zebrin-negative than zebrin-positive modules. The difference in simple spike frequency persisted when the synaptic input to, but not intrinsic activity of, Purkinje cells was manipulated. Blocking TRPC3, the effector channel of a cascade of proteins that have zebrin-like distribution patterns, attenuated the simple spike frequency difference. Our results indicate that zebrin-discriminated cerebellar modules operate at different frequencies, which depend on activation of TRPC3, and that this property is relevant for all cerebellar functions.
The cerebellum, located at the back of the brain underneath the cerebral hemispheres, is best known for its role in the control of movement. Despite its small size, the cerebellum contains more than half of the brain's neurons. These are organized in a repeating pattern in which cells called Purkinje cells receive inputs from two types of fibers: climbing fibers, which ascend into the cerebellum from the brainstem; and parallel fibers, which run perpendicular to the climbing fibers. This gives rise to a characteristic ‘crystalline’ structure.
As a result of this uniform circuitry, it was widely believed was that all Purkinje cells throughout the cerebellum would function the same way. However, the presence of distinct patterns of gene expression in different regions suggests that this is not the case. Molecules called zebrins, for example, are found in some Purkinje cells but not others, and this gives rise to a pattern of zebrin-positive and zebrin-negative stripes. A number of other molecules have similar distributions, suggesting that these differences in molecular machinery could underlie differences in cellular physiology.
Zhou, Lin et al. have now provided one of the first direct demonstrations of such physiological differences by showing that zebrin-positive cells generate action potentials at lower frequencies than zebrin-negative cells. This pattern is seen throughout the cerebellum, and is evident even when the positive and negative cells are neighbors, which indicates that these differences do not simply reflect differences in the locations of the cells or differences in the inputs they receive from parallel fibers. Additional experiments revealed that the distinct firing rates are likely not generated by zebrin itself, but rather by proteins that are expressed alongside zebrin, most notably those that work through an ion channel called TRPC3.
By showing that cells arranged in the same type of circuit can nevertheless have distinct firing rates, the work of Zhou, Lin et al. has revealed an additional level of complexity in the physiology of the cerebellum. In addition to improving our understanding of how the brain controls movement, these findings might also be of interest to researchers studying the increasing number of neurological and psychiatric disorders in which cerebellar dysfunction has been implicated.
cerebellum; cerebellar modules; Purkinje cells; zebrin II; TRPC3; mouse
The release of neurotransmitter-filled vesicles following action potentials occurs with discrete time courses: sub-millisecond phasic release that can be desynchronized by activity followed by ‘delayed release’ that persists for tens of milliseconds. Delayed release has a well established role in synaptic integration, but it is not clear whether desynchronization of phasic release has physiological consequences. At the climbing fiber to Purkinje cell synapse, the synchronous fusion of multiple vesicles is critical for generating complex spikes. Here we show that stimulation at physiological frequencies drives the temporal dispersion of vesicles undergoing multivesicular release, resulting in a slowing of the EPSC on the millisecond time scale. Remarkably, these changes in EPSC kinetics robustly alter the Purkinje cell complex spike in a manner that promotes axonal propagation of individual spikelets. Thus, desynchronization of multivesicular release enhances the precise and efficient information transfer by complex spikes.
synaptic transmission; Purkinje cell; climbing fiber; vesicle fusion
Excitatory drive enters the cerebellum via mossy fibers, which activate granule cells, and climbing fibers, which activate Purkinje cell dendrites. Until now, the coordinated regulation of these pathways has gone unmonitored in spatially resolved neuronal ensembles, especially in awake animals. We imaged cerebellar activity using functional two-photon microscopy and extracellular recording in awake mice locomoting on an air-cushioned spherical treadmill. We recorded from putative granule cells, molecular layer interneurons, and Purkinje cell dendrites in zone A of lobule IV/V, representing sensation and movement from trunk and limbs. Locomotion was associated with widespread increased activity in granule cells and interneurons, consistent with an increase in mossy fiber drive. At the same time, dendrites of different Purkinje cells showed increased co-activation, reflecting increased synchrony of climbing fiber activity. In resting animals, aversive stimuli triggered increased activity in granule cells and interneurons, as well as increased Purkinje cell co-activation that was strongest for neighboring dendrites and decreased smoothly as a function of mediolateral distance. In contrast with anesthetized recordings, no 1–10 Hz oscillations in climbing fiber activity were evident. Once locomotion began, responses to external stimuli in all three cell types were strongly suppressed. Thus climbing and mossy fiber representations can shift together within a fraction of a second, reflecting in turn either movement-associated activity or external stimuli.
A major subtype of glutamate receptors, AMPA receptors (AMPARs), are generally thought to mediate excitation at mammalian central synapses via the ionotropic action of ligand-gated channel opening. It has recently emerged, however, that synaptic activation of AMPARs by glutamate released from the climbing fibre input elicits not only postsynaptic excitation but also presynaptic inhibition of GABAergic transmission onto Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex. Although presynaptic inhibition is critical for information processing at central synapses, the molecular mechanisms by which AMPARs take part in such actions are not known. This study therefore aimed at further examining the properties of AMPAR-mediated presynaptic inhibition at GABAergic synapses in the rat cerebellum. Our data provide evidence that the climbing fibre-induced inhibition of GABA release from interneurons depends on AMPAR-mediated activation of GTP-binding proteins coupled with down-regulation of presynaptic voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. A Gi/o-protein inhibitor, N-ethylmaleimide, selectively abolished the AMPAR-mediated presynaptic inhibition at cerebellar GABAergic synapses but did not affect AMPAR-mediated excitatory actions on Purkinje cells. Furthermore, both Gi/o-coupled receptor agonists, baclofen and DCG-IV, and the P/Q-type calcium channel blocker ω-agatoxin IVA markedly occluded the AMPAR-mediated inhibition of GABAergic transmission. Conversely, AMPAR activation inhibited action potential-triggered Ca2+ influx into individual axonal boutons of cerebellar GABAergic interneurons. By suppressing the inhibitory inputs to Purkinje cells, the AMPAR-mediated presynaptic inhibition could thus provide a feed-forward mechanism for the information flow from the cerebellar cortex.
AMPA-type glutamate receptor; cerebellum; GABAergic inhibitory synapse; presynaptic inhibition; rat
Unipolar brush cells (UBCs) are excitatory interneurons with their somata located in the granular layer. Recently, T-brain factor 2 (Tbr2) was shown to be expressed in a subset of UBCs in mouse cerebellum. Scrambler mice exhibit severe cerebellum abnormalities, including the failure of embryonic Purkinje cell dispersal and a complete absence of foliation due to a mutation in the disabled-1 adaptor protein. Since most UBC markers are expressed postnatally, it has proven difficult to identify the relationship between developing Purkinje cell clusters and migrating UBCs. Because scrambler mice closely mimic normal embryonic day 18 cerebellum, we examined whether Tbr2-positive UBCs are associated with Purkinje cell cluster markers such as zebrin II, which is the most studied compartmentation marker in the cerebellum. We investigated the distribution of Tbr2-positive UBCs in this mutant by using anti-Tbr2 immunocytochemistry. The data revealed that Tbr2 immunoreactivity was exclusively present in the nucleus of UBCs in scrambler cerebellum. Based on expression data, a Tbr2-positive UBC map was constructed. In addition, Tbr2-positive UBCs are found associated with ectopic zebrin II-immunoreactive Purkinje cell clusters in scrambler cerebellum. These data suggest that UBCs use Purkinje cell compartmentation to migrate into their final position through interactions with the embryonic array of specific Purkinje cell subtypes.
Tbr2; unipolar brush cell; scrambler; zebrin; cerebellum
Metabotropic glutamate receptors type 1 (mGluR1s) are required for a normal function of the mammalian brain. They are particularly important for synaptic signaling and plasticity in the cerebellum. Unlike ionotropic glutamate receptors that mediate rapid synaptic transmission, mGluR1s produce in cerebellar Purkinje cells a complex postsynaptic response consisting of two distinct signal components, namely a local dendritic calcium signal and a slow excitatory postsynaptic potential. The basic mechanisms underlying these synaptic responses were clarified in recent years. First, the work of several groups established that the dendritic calcium signal results from IP3 receptor-mediated calcium release from internal stores. Second, it was recently found that mGluR1-mediated slow excitatory postsynaptic potentials are mediated by the transient receptor potential channel TRPC3. This surprising finding established TRPC3 as a novel postsynaptic channel for glutamatergic synaptic transmission.
The binding of neurotransmitter to mGluR1 receptors elicits a complex postsynaptic response. This includes a slow excitatory potential generated by TRPC3 channels and dendritic Ca2+ signals generated by IP3 receptors.
Infection of newborn Lewis rats with Borna disease virus (neonatal Borna disease [NBD]) results in cerebellar damage without the cellular inflammation associated with infections in later life. Purkinje cell (PC) damage has been reported for several models of early-life viral infection, including NBD; however, the time course and distribution of PC pathology have not been investigated rigorously. This study examined the spatiotemporal relationship between PC death and zonal organization in NBD cerebella. Real-time PCR at postnatal day 28 (PND28) revealed decreased cerebellar levels of mRNAs encoding the glycolytic enzymes aldolase C (AldoC, also known as zebrin II) and phosphofructokinase C and the excitatory amino acid transporter 4 (EAAT4). Zebrin II and EAAT4 immunofluorescence analysis in PND21, PND28, PND42, and PND84 NBD rat cerebella revealed a complex pattern of PC degeneration. Early cell loss (PND28) was characterized by preferential apoptotic loss of zebrin II/EAAT4-negative PC subsets in the anterior vermis. Consistent with early preferential loss of zebrin II/EAAT4-negative PCs in the vermis, the densities of microglia and the Bergmann glial expression of metallothionein I/II and the hyaluronan receptor CD44 were higher in zebrin II/EAAT4-negative zones. In contrast, early loss in lateral cerebellar lobules did not reflect a similar discrimination between PC phenotypes. Patterns of vermal PC loss became more heterogeneous at PND42, with the loss of both zebrin II/EAAT4-negative and zebrin II/EAAT4-positive neurons. At PND84, zebrin II/EAAT4 patterning was abolished in the anterior cerebellum, with preferential PC survival in lobule X. Our investigation reveals regional discrimination between patterns of PC subset loss, defined by zebrin II/EAAT4 expression domains, following neonatal viral infection. These findings suggest a differential vulnerability of PC subsets during the early stages of virus-induced neurodegeneration.
The Acp2 gene encodes the beta subunit of lysosomal acid phosphatase, which is an isoenzyme that hydrolyzes orthophosphoric monoesters. In mice, a spontaneous mutation in Acp2 results in severe cerebellar defects. These include a reduced size, abnormal lobulation, and an apparent anterior cerebellar disorder with an absent or hypoplastic vermis. Based on differential gene expression in the cerebellum, the mouse cerebellar cortex can normally be compartmentalized anteroposteriorly into four transverse zones and mediolaterally into parasagittal stripes. In this study, immunohistochemistry was performed using various Purkinje cell compartmentation markers to examine their expression patterns in the Acp2 mutant. Despite the abnormal lobulation and anterior cerebellar defects, zebrin II and PLCβ4 showed similar expression patterns in the nax mutant and wild type cerebellum. However, fewer stripes were found in the anterior zone of the nax mutant, which could be due to a lack of Purkinje cells or altered expression of the stripe markers. HSP25 expression was uniform in the central zone of the nax mutant cerebellum at around postnatal day (P) 18–19, suggesting that HSP25 immunonegative Purkinje cells are absent or delayed in stripe pattern expression compared to the wild type. HSP25 expression became heterogeneous around P22–23, with twice the number of parasagittal stripes in the nax mutant compared to the wild type. Aside from reduced size and cortical disorganization, both the posterior zone and nodular zone in the nax mutant appeared less abnormal than the rest of the cerebellum. From these results, it is evident that the anterior zone of the nax mutant cerebellum is the most severely affected, and this extends beyond the primary fissure into the rostral central zone/vermis. This suggests that ACP2 has critical roles in the development of the anterior cerebellum and it may regulate anterior and central zone compartmentation.
Neurotransmitter spillover represents a form of neural transmission not restricted to morphologically defined synaptic connections. Communication between climbing fibers (CFs) and molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) in the cerebellum is mediated exclusively by glutamate spillover. Here, we show how CF stimulation functionally segregates MLIs based on their location relative to glutamate release. Excitation of MLIs that reside within the domain of spillover diffusion coordinates inhibition of MLIs outside the diffusion limit. CF excitation of MLIs is dependent on extrasynaptic NMDA receptors that enhance the spatial and temporal spread of CF signaling. Activity mediated by functionally segregated MLIs converges onto neighboring Purkinje cells (PCs) to generate a long-lasting biphasic change in inhibition. These data demonstrate how glutamate release from single CFs modulates excitability of neighboring PCs, thus expanding the influence of CFs on cerebellar cortical activity in a manner not predicted by anatomical connectivity.
Glutamate receptor delta 2 (GluRδ2) is selectively expressed in the cerebellum, exclusively in the spines of the Purkinje cells (PCs) that are in contact with parallel fibers (PFs). Although its structure is similar to ionotropic glutamate receptors, it has no channel function and its ligand is unknown. The GluRδ2-null mice, such as knockout and hotfoot have profoundly altered cerebellar circuitry, which causes ataxia and impaired motor learning. Notably, GluRδ2 in PC-PF synapses regulates their maturation and strengthening and induces long term depression (LTD). In addition, GluRδ2 participates in the highly territorial competition between the two excitatory inputs to the PC; the climbing fiber (CF), which innervates the proximal dendritic compartment, and the PF, which is connected to spiny distal branchlets. Recently, studies have suggested that GluRδ2 acts as an adhesion molecule in PF synaptogenesis. Here, we provide in vivo and in vitro evidence that supports this hypothesis. Through lentiviral rescue in hotfoot mice, we noted a recovery of PC-PF contacts in the distal dendritic domain. In the proximal domain, we observed the formation of new spines that were innervated by PFs and a reduction in contact with the CF; ie, the pattern of innervation in the PC shifted to favor the PF input. Moreover, ectopic expression of GluRδ2 in HEK293 cells that were cocultured with granule cells or in cerebellar Golgi cells in the mature brain induced the formation of new PF contacts. Collectively, our observations show that GluRδ2 is an adhesion molecule that induces the formation of PF contacts independently of its cellular localization and promotes heterosynaptic competition in the PC proximal dendritic domain.
The cerebellum consists of parasagittal zones that define fundamental modules of neural processing. Each zone receives input from a distinct subdivision of the inferior olive (IO)—activity in one olivary subdivision will affect activity in one cerebellar module. To define functions of the cerebellar modules, we inactivated specific olivary subdivisions in six male cats with a glutamate receptor blocker. Olivary inactivation eliminates Purkinje cell complex spikes, which results in a high rate of Purkinje cell simple spike discharge. The increased simple spike discharge inhibits output from connected regions of the cerebellar nuclei. After inactivation, behavior was evaluated during a reach-to-grasp task and during locomotion. Inactivation of each subdivision produced unique behavioral deficits. Performance of the reach-to-grasp task was affected by inactivation of the rostral dorsal accessory olive (rDAO) and the rostral medial accessory olive (rMAO) and, possibly, the principal olive. rDAO inactivation produced paw drag during locomotion and a deficit in grasping the handle during the reach-to-grasp task. rMAO inactivation caused the cats to reach under the handle and produced severe limb drag during locomotion. Inactivation of the dorsal medial cell column, cell group β, or caudal medial accessory olive produced little deficit in the reach-to-grasp task, but each produced a different deficit during locomotion. In all cases, the cats appeared to have intact sensation, good spatial awareness, and no change of affect. Normal cerebellar function requires low rates of IO discharge, and each cerebellar module has a specific and unique function in sensory–motor integration.
Glutamate produces both fast excitation through activation of ionotropic receptors and slower actions through metabotropic receptors (mGluRs). To date, ionotropic but not metabotropic neurotransmission has been shown to undergo long-term synaptic potentiation and depression. Burst stimulation of parallel fibers releases glutamate which activates perisynaptic mGluR1 in the dendritic spines of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Here we show that the mGluR1-dependent slow EPSC and its coincident Ca transient were selectively and persistently depressed by repeated climbing fiber-evoked depolarization of Purkinje cells in brain slices. LTD(mGluR1) was also observed when slow synaptic current was evoked by exogenous application of a group I mGluR agonist, implying a postsynaptic expression mechanism. Ca imaging further revealed that LTD(mGluR1) was expressed as coincident attenuation of both limbs of mGluR1 signaling: the slow EPSC and PLC/IP3-mediated dendritic Ca mobilization. Thus, different patterns of neural activity can evoke LTD of either fast ionotropic or slow mGluR1-mediated synaptic signaling.
The cerebellum receives two excitatory afferents, the climbing fiber (CF) and the mossy fiber-parallel fiber (PF) pathway, both converging onto Purkinje cells (PCs) that are the sole neurons sending outputs from the cerebellar cortex. Glutamate receptor δ2 (GluRδ2) is expressed selectively in cerebellar PCs and localized exclusively at the PF-PC synapses. We found that a significant number of PC spines lack synaptic contacts with PF terminals and some of residual PF-PC synapses show mismatching between pre- and postsynaptic specializations in conventional and conditional GluRδ2 knockout mice. Studies with mutant mice revealed that in addition to PF-PC synapse formation, GluRδ2 is essential for synaptic plasticity, motor learning, and the restriction of CF territory. GluRδ2 regulates synapse formation through the amino-terminal domain, while the control of synaptic plasticity, motor learning, and CF territory is mediated through the carboxyl-terminal domain. Thus, GluRδ2 is the molecule that bridges synapse formation and motor learning. We found that the trans-synaptic interaction of postsynaptic GluRδ2 and presynaptic neurexins (NRXNs) through cerebellin 1 (Cbln1) mediates PF-PC synapse formation. The synaptogenic triad is composed of one molecule of tetrameric GluRδ2, two molecules of hexameric Cbln1 and four molecules of monomeric NRXN. Thus, GluRδ2 triggers synapse formation by clustering four NRXNs. These findings provide a molecular insight into the mechanism of synapse formation in the brain.
glutamate receptor δ2; motor learning; neurexin; parallel fiber; Purkinje cell; synapse formation
The climbing fiber (CF) neurotransmitter not only excites the postsynaptic Purkinje cell (PC) but also suppresses GABA release from inhibitory interneurons converging onto the same PC depending on AMPA-type glutamate receptor (AMPAR) activation. Although the CF-/AMPAR-mediated inhibition of GABA release provides a likely mechanism boosting the CF input-derived excitation, how the CF transmitter reaches target AMPARs to elicit this action remains unknown. Here, we report that the CF transmitter diffused from its release sites directly targets GluR2/GluR3 AMPARs on interneuron terminals to inhibit GABA release. A weak GluR3-AMPAR agonist, bromohomoibotenic acid, produced excitatory currents in the postsynaptic PCs without presynaptic inhibitory effect on GABAergic transmission. Conversely, a specific inhibitor of the GluR2-lacking/Ca2+-permeable AMPARs, philanthotoxin-433, did not affect the CF-induced inhibition but suppressed AMPAR-mediated currents in Bergmann glia. A low-affinity GluR antagonist, γ-d-glutamylglycine, or retardation of neurotransmitter diffusion by dextran reduced the inhibitory action of CF-stimulation, whereas blockade of glutamate transporters enhanced the CF-induced inhibition. The results suggest that the CF transmitter released after repeated stimulation overwhelms local glutamate uptake and thereby diffuses from the release site to reach GluR2/GluR3 AMPARs on nearby interneuron terminals. Double immunostaining showed that GluR2/3 subunits and glutamate decarboxylase or synaptophysin are colocalized at the perisomatic GABAergic processes surrounding PCs. Finally, electron microscopy detected specific immunoreactivity for GluR2/3 at the presynaptic terminals of symmetric axosomatic synapses on the PC. These findings demonstrate that the CF transmitter directly inhibits GABA release from interneurons to the PC, relying on extrasynaptic diffusion and local heterogeneity in AMPAR subunit compositions.
AMPA-type glutamate receptor; GABA; climbing fiber; basket cell; Bergmann glia; Purkinje cell; presynaptic inhibition; glutamate transporters; cerebellum
The topography of the cerebellar cortex is described by at least three different maps, with the basic units of each map termed “microzones,” “patches,” and “bands.” These are defined, respectively, by different patterns of climbing fiber input, mossy fiber input, and Purkinje cell (PC) phenotype. Based on embryological development, the “one-map” hypothesis proposes that the basic units of each map align in the adult animal and the aim of the present study was to test this possibility. In barbiturate anesthetized adult rats, nanoinjections of bidirectional tracer (Retrobeads and biotinylated dextran amine) were made into somatotopically identified regions within the hindlimb C1 zone in copula pyramidis. Injection sites were mapped relative to PC bands defined by the molecular marker zebrin II and were correlated with the pattern of retrograde cell labeling within the inferior olive and in the basilar pontine nuclei to determine connectivity of microzones and patches, respectively, and also with the distributions of biotinylated dextran amine-labeled PC terminals in the cerebellar nuclei. Zebrin bands were found to be related to both climbing fiber and mossy fiber inputs and also to cortical representation of different parts of the ipsilateral hindpaw, indicating a precise spatial organization within cerebellar microcircuitry. This precise connectivity extends to PC terminal fields in the cerebellar nuclei and olivonuclear projections. These findings strongly support the one-map hypothesis and suggest that, at the microcircuit level of resolution, the cerebellar cortex has a common plan of spatial organization for major inputs, outputs, and PC phenotype.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are associated with many forms of synaptic plasticity. Their expression level and subunit composition undergo developmental changes in several brain regions. In the mouse cerebellum, beside a developmental switch between NR2B and NR2A/C subunits in granule cells, functional postsynaptic NMDA receptors are seen in Purkinje cells of neonate and adult but not juvenile rat and mice. A presynaptic effect of NMDA on GABA release by cerebellar interneurons was identified recently. Nevertheless whereas NMDA receptor subunits are detected on parallel fiber terminals, a presynaptic effect of NMDA on spontaneous release of glutamate has not been demonstrated. Using mouse cerebellar cultures and patch-clamp recordings we show that NMDA facilitates glutamate release onto Purkinje cells in young cultures via a presynaptic mechanism, whereas NMDA activates extrasynaptic receptors in Purkinje cells recorded in old cultures. The presynaptic effect of NMDA on glutamate release is also observed in Purkinje cells recorded in acute slices prepared from juvenile but not from adult mice and requires a specific protocol of NMDA application.
A classic view in cerebellar physiology holds that Purkinje cells do not express functional N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and that, therefore, postsynaptic NMDA receptors are not involved in the induction of long-term depression (LTD) at parallel fiber (PF) to Purkinje cell synapses. Recently, it has been demonstrated that functional NMDA receptors are postsynaptically expressed at climbing fiber (CF) to Purkinje cell synapses in mice, reaching full expression levels at about 2 months after birth. Here, we show that in the mature mouse cerebellum LTD (induced by paired PF and CF activation), but not long-term potentiation (LTP; PF stimulation alone) at PF to Purkinje cell synapses is blocked by bath application of the NMDA receptor antagonist D-APV. A blockade of LTD, but not LTP, was also observed when the non-competitive NMDA channel blocker MK-801 was added to the patch-pipette saline, suggesting that postsynaptically expressed NMDA receptors are required for LTD induction. Using confocal calcium imaging, we show that CF-evoked calcium transients in dendritic spines are reduced in the presence of D-APV. This observation confirms that NMDA receptor signaling occurs at CF synapses, and suggests that NMDA receptor-mediated calcium transients at the CF input site might contribute to LTD induction. Finally, we performed dendritic patch-clamp recordings from rat Purkinje cells. Dendritically recorded CF responses were reduced when D-APV was bath-applied. Together, these data suggest that the late developmental expression of postsynaptic NMDA receptors at CF synapses onto Purkinje cells is associated with a switch towards an NMDA receptor-dependent LTD induction mechanism.
calcium; climbing fiber; long-term depression; long-term potentiation; parallel fiber; synaptic plasticity
The establishment of neural circuits involves both the precise positioning of cells within brain regions and projection of axons to specific target cells. In the cerebellum (Cb), the medial-lateral (M-L) and anterior-posterior (A-P) position of each Purkinje cell (PC) and the topography of its axon can be defined with respect to two coordinate systems within the Cb; one based on the pattern of lobules and the other on PC gene expression in parasagittal clusters in the embryo (e.g. Pcp2) and stripes in the adult (e.g. ZebrinII). The relationship between the embryonic clusters of molecularly defined PCs and particular adult PC stripes is not clear. Using a mouse genetic inducible fate mapping (GIFM) approach and a Pcp2-CreER-IRES-hAP transgene, we marked three bilateral clusters of PC clusters with myristolated Green fluorescent protein (mGfp) on approximately embryonic day (E) 15 and followed their fate into adulthood. We found that these three clusters contributed specifically to ZebrinII-expressing PCs, including nine of the adult stripes. This result suggests that embryonic PCs maintain a particular molecular identity, and that each embryonic cluster can contribute PCs to more than one adult M-L stripe. Each PC projects a primary axon to one of the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) or the vestibular nuclei in the brainstem in an organized fashion that relates to the position of the PCs along the M-L axis. We characterized when PC axons from the three M-L clusters acquire topographic projections. Using a combination of GIFM to mark the PC clusters with mGfp and staining for human placental alkaline phosphatase (hAP) in Pcp2-CreER-IRES-hAP transgenic embryos we found that axons from each embryonic PCs cluster intermingled with neurons within particular DCN or projected out of the Cb toward the vestibular nuclei by E14.5. These studies show that PC molecular patterning, efferent circuitry, and DCN nucleogenesis occur simultaneously, suggesting a link between these processes.
L7/Pcp-2; ZebrinII; molecular code; patterning; axon topography; deep nuclei
The adult cerebellar cortex is comprised of reproducible arrays of transverse zones and parasagittal stripes of Purkinje cells. Adult stripes are created through the perinatal rostrocaudal dispersion of embryonic Purkinje cell clusters, triggered by signaling through the Reelin pathway. Reelin is secreted by neurons in the external granular layer and deep cerebellar nuclei and binds to two high affinity extracellular receptors on Purkinje cells-the Very low density lipoprotein receptor (Vldlr) and apolipoprotein E receptor 2 (Apoer2). In mice null for either Reelin or double null for Vldlr and Apoer2, Purkinje cell clusters fail to disperse. Here we report that animals null for either Vldlr or Apoer2 individually, exhibit specific and parasagittally-restricted Purkinje cell ectopias. For example, in mice lacking Apoer2 function immunostaining reveals ectopic Purkinje cells that are largely restricted to the zebrin II-immunonegative population of the anterior vermis. In contrast, mice null for Vldlr have a much larger population of ectopic Purkinje cells that includes members from both the zebrin II-immunonegative and -immunopositive phenotypes. HSP25 immunoreactivity reveals that in Vldlr null animals a large portion of zebrin II-immunopositive ectopic cells are probably destined to become stripes in the central zone (lobules VI–VII). A small population of ectopic zebrin II-immunonegative Purkinje cells is also observed in animals heterozygous for both receptors (Apoer2+/−: Vldlr+/−), but no ectopia is present in mice heterozygous for either receptor alone. These results indicate that Apoer2 and Vldlr coordinate the dispersal of distinct, but overlapping subsets of Purkinje cells in the developing cerebellum.
Synapses throughout the brain are modified through associative mechanisms in which one input provides an instructive signal for changes in the strength of a second co-activated input. In cerebellar Purkinje cells, climbing fiber synapses provide an instructive signal for plasticity at parallel fiber synapses. Here we show that noradrenaline activates α2-adrenergic receptors to control short-term and long-term associative plasticity of parallel fiber synapses. This regulation of plasticity does not reflect a conventional direct modulation of the postsynaptic Purkinje cell or presynaptic parallel fibers. Instead, noradrenaline reduces associative plasticity by selectively decreasing the probability of release at the climbing fiber synapse, which in turn decreases climbing fiber-evoked dendritic calcium signals. These findings raise the possibility that targeted presynaptic modulation of instructive synapses could provide a general mechanism for dynamic context-dependent modulation of associative plasticity.
climbing fiber; Purkinje cell; cerebellum; α2-adrenergic receptors; LTD; endocannabinoids
Between the first and the second postnatal week, the development of rodent Purkinje cells is characterized by several profound transitions. Purkinje cells acquire their typical dendritic “espalier” tree morphology and form distal spines. During the first postnatal week, they are multi-innervated by climbing fibers and numerous collateral branches sprout from their axons, whereas from the second postnatal week, the regression of climbing fiber multi-innervation begins, and Purkinje cells become innervated by parallel fibers and inhibitory molecular layer interneurons. Furthermore, their periods of developmental cell death and ability to regenerate their axon stop and their axons become myelinated. Thus a Purkinje cell during the first postnatal week looks and functions differently from a Purkinje cell during the second postnatal week. These fundamental changes occur in parallel with a peak of circulating thyroid hormone in the mouse. All these features suggest to some extent an interesting analogy with amphibian metamorphosis.
Purkinje cell; development
Previously, deficiency in the expression of the nuclear orphan receptor TAK1 was found to be associated with delayed cerebellar granule cell migration and Purkinje cell maturation with a permanent deficit in foliation of lobules VI–VII suggesting a role for TAK1 in cerebellum development. In this study, we confirm that TAK1-deficient (TAK1−/−) mice have a smaller cerebellum and exhibit a disruption of lobules VI–VII. We extended these studies and show that at postnatal day 7 (PND7), TAK1−/− mice exhibit a delay in monolayer maturation of dysmorphic calbindin 28K-positive Purkinje cells. The astrocyte-specific glutamate transporter (GLAST) was expressed within Bergmann fibers and internal granule cell layer at significantly lower levels in the cerebellum of TAK1−/− mice. At PND21, Golgi-positive Purkinje cells in TAK1−/− mice displayed a smaller soma (18%) and shorter distance to first branch point (35%). Neuronal death was not observed in TAK1−/− mice at PND21, however, activated microglia were present in the cerebellum suggestive of earlier cell death. These structural deficits in the cerebellum were not sufficient to alter motor strength, coordination, or activity levels; however, deficits in acoustic startle response, pre-pulse startle inhibition, and social interactions were observed. Reactions to a novel environment were inhibited in a light/dark chamber, open-field, and home-cage running-wheel. TAK1−/− mice displayed a plateau in performance on the running-wheel suggesting a deficit in learning to coordinate performance on a motor task. These data indicate that TAK1 is an important transcriptional modulator of cerebellar development and neurodevelopmentally-regulated behavior.
Cerebellum; Behavior; GLAST; Granule cells; Motor Activity; Pre-pulse startle