Mutations in SPTBN2, the gene encoding β-III spectrin, cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 in humans (SCA5), a neurodegenerative disorder resulting in loss of motor coordination. How these mutations give rise to progressive ataxia and what the precise role β-III spectrin plays in normal cerebellar physiology are unknown. We developed a mouse lacking full length β-III spectrin and found that homozygous mice reproduced features of SCA5 including gait abnormalities, tremor, deteriorating motor coordination, Purkinje cell loss and cerebellar atrophy (molecular layer thinning). In vivo analysis reveals an age-related reduction in simple spike firing rate in surviving β-III−/− Purkinje cells while in vitro studies show these neurons to have reduced spontaneous firing, smaller sodium currents and dysregulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission. Our data suggest an early loss of EAAT4- (protein interactor of β-III spectrin) and subsequent loss of GLAST-mediated uptake may play a role in neuronal pathology. These findings implicate a loss of β-III spectrin function in SCA5 pathogenesis and indicate there are at least two physiological effects of β-III spectrin loss that underpin a progressive loss of inhibitory cerebellar output, namely an intrinsic Purkinje cell membrane defect due to reduced sodium currents and alterations in glutamate signaling.
ataxia; cerebellum; motor coordination; glutamate transporters; excitotoxicity; neurodegeneration
How spectrin mutations caused Purkinje cell death becomes clearer following studies that examined the effect of expressing mutant SCA5 in the fly eye. Mutant spectrin causes deficits in synapse formation at the neuromuscular junction and disrupts vesicular trafficking.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the SPBTN2 gene encoding β-III–spectrin. To investigate the molecular basis of SCA5, we established a series of transgenic Drosophila models that express human β-III–spectrin or fly β-spectrin proteins containing SCA5 mutations. Expression of the SCA5 mutant spectrin in the eye causes a progressive neurodegenerative phenotype, and expression in larval neurons results in posterior paralysis, reduced synaptic terminal growth, and axonal transport deficits. These phenotypes are genetically enhanced by both dynein and dynactin loss-of-function mutations. In summary, we demonstrate that SCA5 mutant spectrin causes adult-onset neurodegeneration in the fly eye and disrupts fundamental intracellular transport processes that are likely to contribute to this progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Dendrite arborization patterns are critical determinants of neuronal connectivity and integration. Planar and highly branched dendrites of the cerebellar Purkinje cell receive specific topographical projections from two major afferent pathways; a single climbing fiber axon from the inferior olive that extend along Purkinje dendrites, and parallel fiber axons of granule cells that contact vertically to the plane of dendrites. It has been believed that murine Purkinje cell dendrites extend in a single parasagittal plane in the molecular layer after the cell polarity is determined during the early postnatal development. By three-dimensional confocal analysis of growing Purkinje cells, we observed that mouse Purkinje cells underwent dynamic dendritic remodeling during circuit maturation in the third postnatal week. After dendrites were polarized and flattened in the early second postnatal week, dendritic arbors gradually expanded in multiple sagittal planes in the molecular layer by intensive growth and branching by the third postnatal week. Dendrites then became confined to a single plane in the fourth postnatal week. Multiplanar Purkinje cells in the third week were often associated by ectopic climbing fibers innervating nearby Purkinje cells in distinct sagittal planes. The mature monoplanar arborization was disrupted in mutant mice with abnormal Purkinje cell connectivity and motor discoordination. The dendrite remodeling was also impaired by pharmacological disruption of normal afferent activity during the second or third postnatal week. Our results suggest that the monoplanar arborization of Purkinje cells is coupled with functional development of the cerebellar circuitry.
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
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in β-III spectrin. A mouse lacking full-length β-III spectrin has a phenotype closely mirroring symptoms of SCA5 patients. Here we report the analysis of heterozygous animals, which show no signs of ataxia or cerebellar degeneration up to 2 years of age. This argues against haploinsufficiency as a disease mechanism and points towards human mutations having a dominant-negative effect on wild-type (WT) β-III spectrin function. Cell culture studies using β-III spectrin with a mutation associated with SCA5 (L253P) reveal that mutant protein, instead of being found at the cell membrane, appears trapped in the cytoplasm associated with the Golgi apparatus. Furthermore, L253P β-III spectrin prevents correct localization of WT β-III spectrin and prevents EAAT4, a protein known to interact with β-III spectrin, from reaching the plasma membrane. Interaction of β-III spectrin with Arp1, a subunit of the dynactin–dynein complex, is also lost with the L253P substitution. Despite intracellular accumulation of proteins, this cellular stress does not induce the unfolded protein response, implying the importance of membrane protein loss in disease pathogenesis. Incubation at lower temperature (25°C) rescues L253P β-III spectrin interaction with Arp1 and normal protein trafficking to the membrane. These data provide evidence for a dominant-negative effect of an SCA5 mutation and show for the first time that trafficking of both β-III spectrin and EAAT4 from the Golgi is disrupted through failure of the L253P mutation to interact with Arp1.
The maturation of cerebellar Purkinje cells of normal and nervous (nr/nr) mutant mice has been studied by light and electron microscopy. In the mutant, 90% of Purkinje cells selectively degenerate between postnatal days 23 and 50. Losses are greater in lateral than medial regions. Other cerebellar neurons appear normal. The first morphological abnormality recognized is the presence of rounded mitochondria in perikarya of some Purkinje cells of the mutant at 9 days after birth. By 15 days, all nr/nr Purkinje cells contain spherical mitochondria and begin to deviate from the normal maturational sequence. Elaboration of the extensive dendritic tree halts midway and newly formed axon collateral fibers degenerate. In the perikaryon, the basal polysomal accumulation and climbing fiber-somatic spine synapses are sometimes abnormally retained. Cisternae of the Golgi apparatus and rough endoplasmic reticulum cease to form aligned stacks, and decrease in number, while polysomes dissociate into free ribosomes. These changes are progressive, culminating in cell death. Although every nr/nr Purkinje cell demonstrates spherical mitochondria, some cells survive the critical period, retain a near-normal complement of organelles, and reacquire normal-appearing mitochondria. The disorder appears intrinsic to Purkinje cells since all major classes of synapses were identified before cell death.
In the cerebellar cortex, interneurons of the molecular layer (stellate and basket cells) provide GABAergic input to Purkinje cells, as well as to each other and possibly to other interneurons. GABAergic inhibition in the molecular layer has mainly been investigated at the interneuron to Purkinje cell synapse. In this study, we used complementary subtractive strategies to quantitatively assess the ratio of GABAergic synapses on Purkinje cell dendrites versus those on interneurons. We generated a mouse model in which the GABAA receptor α1 subunit (GABAARα1) was selectively removed from Purkinje cells using the Cre/loxP system. Deletion of the α1 subunit resulted in a complete loss of GABAAR aggregates from Purkinje cells, allowing us to determine the density of GABAAR clusters in interneurons. In a complementary approach, we determined the density of GABA synapses impinging on Purkinje cells using α-dystroglycan as a specific marker of inhibitory postsynaptic sites. Combining these inverse approaches, we found that synapses received by interneurons represent approximately 40% of all GABAergic synapses in the molecular layer. Notably, this proportion was stable during postnatal development, indicating synchronized synaptogenesis. Based on the pure quantity of GABAergic synapses onto interneurons, we propose that mutual inhibition must play an important, yet largely neglected, computational role in the cerebellar cortex.
Basket axon collaterals synapse onto the Purkinje soma/axon initial segment (AIS) area to form specialized structures, the pinceau, which are critical for normal cerebellar function. Mechanistic details of how the pinceau become organized during cerebellar development are poorly understood. Loss of cytoskeletal adaptor protein Ankyrin G (AnkG) results in mislocalization of the cell adhesion molecule Neurofascin (Nfasc) at the Purkinje AIS and abnormal organization of the pinceau. Loss of Nfasc in adult Purkinje neurons leads to slow disorganization of the Purkinje AIS and pinceau morphology. Here we utilized mouse conditional knockout techniques to show that selective loss of Nfasc specifically in Purkinje neurons during early development prevented maturation of the AIS and resulted in loss of Purkinje neuron spontaneous activity and pinceau disorganization. Loss of Nfasc in both Purkinje and basket neurons caused abnormal basket axon collateral branching and targeting to Purkinje soma/AIS, leading to extensive pinceau disorganization, Purkinje neuron degeneration and severe ataxia. Our studies reveal that the Purkinje Nfasc is required for AIS maturation and for maintaining stable contacts between basket axon terminals and the Purkinje AIS during pinceau organization, while the basket neuron Nfasc in combination with Purkinje Nfasc is required for proper basket axon collateral outgrowth and targeting to Purkinje soma/AIS. Thus, cerebellar pinceau organization requires coordinated mechanisms involving specific Nfasc functions in both Purkinje and basket neurons.
To clarify the clinical, neuropathological, and molecular
characteristics of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), two unrelated Japanese families with SCA6 were studied. A clinical feature of the two
families was late onset "pure" cerebellar ataxia. Pathologically, three SCA6 brains consistently showed Purkinje cell dominant cortical cerebellar degeneration. Morphometric analysis showed that loss of the
cerebellar granule cells and inferior olivary neurons were very mild
compared with the severity of Purkinje cell loss. There was no obvious
ubiquitin immunoreactive nuclear inclusions. All affected patients had
identical expanded alleles, and the expansion was also homogeneously
distributed throughout the brain without mosaicism. The present study
showed that SCA6 is characterised by Purkinje cell dominant cortical
cerebellar degeneration, highly stable transmission of the CAG repeat
expansion, and lack of ubiquitin immunoreactive nuclear inclusions.
Spinocerebellar ataxia-1 (SCA1) is a late onset neurodegenerative disease caused by the expansion of a polyglutamine repeat within ataxin-1 protein. The toxic effects triggered by mutant ataxin-1 result in degeneration of the neurons in cerebellum, brain stem and spinocerebellar tracts. The targeted overexpression of mutant ataxin-1 in cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) of the SCA1 transgenic mice results in the formation of cytoplasmic vacuoles in PCs. These vacuoles appear early on before the onset of behavioral abnormalities. Interestingly, we found that vacoules contain S100B and vimentin proteins, which normally localize to neighboring Bergmann glia (BG). Further, immunohistochemical and specialized silver stain analysis revealed that vacuolar formation is associated with alterations in the morphology of dendritic spines of PCs. To gain insights into the mechanisms of vacuolar formation, we investigated if vacuoles in SCA1 PCs have an autophagic origin or are a consequence of some other event. We examined the expression levels (by Western blotting) of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3)-I and LC3-II, and the degradation levels of p62 (a LC3 partner) in the cerebellar fractions prepared from pre-symptomatic SCA1 and age-matched wild-type mice. No p62 degradation was observed; however, LC3-II/(LC3-I + LC3-II) ratios were significantly altered in SCA1 mice indicating changes in the autophagic flux. In addition, LC3 localized to PC vacuoles. Further, we observed a co-localization of myo-inositol monophosphatase 1 (IMPA1) with S100B in PC vacuoles. IMPA1 is present in PC spines and has been implicated in autophagy. In vitro studies using purified IMPA1 and S100B demonstrated that S100B interacted with and activated IMPA1. Both apo and Ca2+-bound S100B were found to activate IMPA1, depending on substrate concentration. IMPA1 is regulated by another calcium-binding protein calbindin-D28k (CaB), since we reported earlier that the CaB levels are reduced in SCA1 PCs, the activation of IMPA1 by S100B may modulate CaB-dependent inositol signaling. This may cause BG–PC interface to degenerate resulting in vacuolar formation. In sum, these data indicate that vacuoles appearing early in SCA1 PCs could be developing through some unknown autophagic mechanism.
Purkinje cells; S100B; Myo-inositol monophosphatase 1; Spinocerebellar ataxia-1; Cerebellum; Vacuoles; Neurodegeneration; Glia
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by progressive loss of coordination, motor impairment and the degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells, spinocerebellar tracts and brainstem nuclei. Many dominantly inherited neurodegenerative diseases share the mutational basis of SCA1: the expansion of a translated CAG repeat coding for glutamine. Mice lacking ataxin-1 display learning deficits and altered hippocampal synaptic plasticity but none of the abnormalities seen in human SCA1; mice expressing ataxin-1 with an expanded CAG tract (82 glutamine residues), however, develop Purkinje cell pathology and ataxia. These results suggest that mutant ataxin-1 gains a novel function that leads to neuronal degeneration. This novel function might involve aberrant interaction(s) with cell-specific protein(s), which in turn might explain the selective neuronal pathology. Mutant ataxin-1 interacts preferentially with a leucine-rich acidic nuclear protein that is abundantly expressed in cerebellar Purkinje cells and other brain regions affected in SCA1. Immunolocalization studies in affected neurons of patients and SCA1 transgenic mice showed that mutant ataxin-1 localizes to a single, ubiquitin-positive nuclear inclusion (NI) that alters the distribution of the proteasome and certain chaperones. Further analysis of NIs in transfected HeLa cells established that the proteasome and chaperone proteins co-localize with ataxin-1 aggregates. Moreover, overexpression of the chaperone HDJ-2/HSDJ in HeLa cells decreased ataxin-1 aggregation, suggesting that protein misfolding might underlie NI formation. To assess the importance of the nuclear localization of ataxin-1 and its role in SCA1 pathogenesis, two lines of transgenic mice were generated. In the first line, the nuclear localization signal was mutated so that full-length mutant ataxin-1 would remain in the cytoplasm; mice from this line did not develop any ataxia or pathology. This suggests that mutant ataxin-1 is pathogenic only in the nucleus. To assess the role of the aggregates, transgenic mice were generated with mutant ataxin-1 without the self-association domain (SAD) essential for aggregate formation. These mice developed ataxia and Purkinje cell abnormalities similar to those seen in SCA1 transgenic mice carrying full-length mutant ataxin-1, but lacked NIs. The nuclear milieu is thus a critical factor in SCA1 pathogenesis, but large NIs are not needed to initiate pathogenesis. They might instead be downstream of the primary pathogenic steps. Given the accumulated evidence, we propose the following model for SCA1 pathogenesis: expansion of the polyglutamine tract alters the conformation of ataxin-1, causing it to misfold. This in turn leads to aberrant protein interactions. Cell specificity is determined by the cell-specific proteins interacting with ataxin-1. Submicroscopic protein aggregation might occur because of protein misfolding, and those aggregates become detectable as NIs as the disease advances. Proteasome redistribution to the NI might contribute to disease progression by disturbing proteolysis and subsequent vital cellular functions.
Non-cell autonomous involvement of glial cells in the pathogenesis of polyglutamine diseases is gaining recognition in the ataxia field. We previously demonstrated that Purkinje cells (PCs) in polyglutamine disease spinocerebellar ataxia-1 (SCA1) contain cytoplasmic vacuoles rich in Bergmann glial (BG) protein S100B. The vacuolar formation in SCA1 PCs is accompanied with an abnormal morphology of dendritic spines. In addition, S100B mRNA expression levels are significantly high in the cerebella of asymptomatic SCA1 transgenic (Tg) mice and increase further with age when compared with the age-matched wildtype animals. This higher S100B mRNA expression positively correlates with an increase in the number of vacuoles. To further characterize the function of S100B in SCA1 pathology, we explored the effects of S100B protein on GFP-ataxin-1 (ATXN1) with expanded polyglutamines [82Q] in HEK stable cell line. Externally added S100B protein to these cells induced S100B positive vacuoles similar to those seen in SCA1 PCs in vivo. Further, we found that both externally added and internally expressed S100B significantly reduced GFP-ATXN1[82Q] inclusion body formation. In contrast, the addition of S100B inhibitory peptide TRTK12 reversed S100B mediated effects. Interestingly, in SCA1 Tg mice, PCs containing S100B vacuoles also showed the lack of nuclear inclusions, whereas, PCs without vacuoles contained nuclear inclusions. Additionally, TRTK12 treatment reduced abnormal dendritic growth and morphology of PCs in cerebellar slice cultures prepared from SCA1 Tg mice. Moreover, intranasal administration of TRTK12 to SCA1 Tg mice reduced cerebellar S100B levels in the particulate fractions and these mice displayed a significant improvement in their performance deficit on the Rotarod test. Taken together our results suggest that glial S100B may augment degenerative changes in SCA1 PCs by modulating mutant ataxin-1 toxicity/solubility through an unknown signaling pathway.
Purkinje cells; S100B; ataxin-1; spinocerebellar ataxia-1; cerebellum; vacuoles; neurodegeneration; Bergmann glia
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 20 (SCA20) has been linked to chromosome 11q12, but the underlying genetic defect has yet to be identified. We applied single-nucleotide-polymorphism genotyping to detect structural alterations in the genomic DNA of patients with SCA20. We found a 260 kb duplication within the previously linked SCA20 region, which was confirmed by quantitative PCR and fiber FISH, the latter also showing its direct orientation. The duplication spans ten known and two unknown genes, and is present in all affected individuals in the single reported SCA20 pedigree. While the mechanism whereby this duplication may be pathogenic remains to be established, we speculate that the critical gene within the duplicated segment may be DAGLA, the product of which is normally present at the base of Purkinje cell dendritic spines and contributes to the modulation of parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses.
During cerebellar development, Purkinje cells (PCs) form the most elaborate dendritic trees among neurons in the brain, but the mechanism regulating PC arborization remains largely unknown. Geranylgeranyltransferase I (GGT) is a prenyltransferase that is responsible for lipid modification of several signaling proteins, such as Rho family small GTPase Rac1, which has been shown to be involved in neuronal morphogenesis. Here we show that GGT plays an important role in dendritic development of PCs.
We found that GGT was abundantly expressed in the developing rat cerebellum, in particular molecular layer (ML), the region enriched with PC dendrites. Inhibition or down-regulation of GGT using small interference RNA (siRNA) inhibited dendritic development of PCs. In contrast, up-regulation of GGT promoted dendritic arborization of PCs. Furthermore, neuronal depolarization induced by high K+ or treatment with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promoted membrane association of Rac1 and dendritic development of PCs in cultured cerebellar slices. The effect of BDNF or high K+ was inhibited by inhibition or down-regulation of GGT.
Our results indicate that GGT plays an important role in Purkinje cell development, and suggest a novel role of GGT in neuronal morphogenesis in vivo.
The weeble mutant mouse has a frame shift mutation in inositol polyphosphate 4-phosphatase type I (Inpp4a). The phenotype is characterized by an early onset cerebellar ataxia and neurodegeneration, especially apparent in the Purkinje cells. Purkinje cell loss is a common pathological finding in many human and mouse ataxic disorders. Here we show that in the Inpp4awbl mutant, Purkinje cells are lost in a specific temporal and spatial pattern. Loss occurs early in postnatal development; however, prior to the appearance of climbing fibers in the developing molecular layer, the mutant has a normal complement of Purkinje cells and they are properly positioned. Degeneration and reactive gliosis are present at postnatal day 5 and progress rapidly in a defined pattern of patches; however, Inpp4a is expressed uniformly across Purkinje cells. In late stage mutants, patches of surviving Purkinje cells appear remarkably normal with the exception that the climbing fibers have been excessively eliminated. Surviving Purkinje cells express Eaat4, a glutamate transporter that is differentially expressed in subsets of Purkinje cells during development and into adult stages. Prior to Purkinje cell loss, reactive gliosis and dendritic atrophy can be seen in Eaat4 negative stripes. Our data suggest that Purkinje cell loss in the Inpp4awbl mutant is due to glutamate excitotoxicity initiated by the climbing fiber, and that Eaat4 may exert a protective effect.
The receptor tyrosine kinase TrkB and its ligands, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5), are critically important for growth, survival and activity-dependent synaptic strengthening in the central nervous system. These TrkB-mediated actions occur in a highly cell-type specific manner. Here we report that cerebellar Purkinje cells, which are richly endowed with TrkB receptors, develop a normal morphology in trkB-deficient mice. Thus, in contrast to other types of neurons, Purkinje cells do not need TrkB for dendritic growth and spine formation. Instead, we find a moderate delay in the maturation of GABAergic synapses and, more importantly, an abnormal multiple climbing fiber innervation in Purkinje cells in trkB-deficient mice. Thus, our results demonstrate an involvement of TrkB receptors in synapse elimination and reveal a new role for receptor tyrosine kinases in the brain.
Voltage dependent calcium channels (VDCC) participate in regulation of neuronal Ca2+. The Rolling mouse Nagoya (Cacna1atg-rol) is a spontaneous P/Q type VDCC mutant, which has been suggested as an animal model for some human neurological diseases such as autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia (SCA6), familial hemiplegic migraine and episodic ataxia type-2. Morphology of Purkinje cell (PC) dendritic spine is suggested to be regulated by signal molecules such as Ca2+ and by interactions with afferent inputs. The amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic current was decreased in parallel fiber (PF) to PC synapses, whereas apparently increased in climbing fiber (CF) to PC synapses in rolling mice Nagoya. We have studied synaptic morphology changes in cerebella of this mutant strain. We previously found altered synapses between PF varicosity and PC dendritic spines. To study dendritic spine plasticity of PC in the condition of insufficient P/Q type VDCC function, we used high voltage electron microscopy (HVEM). We measured the density and length of PC dendritic spines at tertiary braches. We observed statistically a significant decrease in spine density as well as shorter spine length in rolling mice compared to wild type mice at tertiary dendritic braches. In proximal PC dendrites, however, there were more numerous dendritic spines in rolling mice Nagoya. The differential regulation of rolling PC spines at tertiary and proximal dendrites in rolling mice Nagoya suggests that two major excitatory afferent systems may be regulated reciprocally in the cerebellum of rolling mouse Nagoya.
Ataxia; Dendritic spine; High voltage electron microscope; Purkinje cell; Voltage dependent calcium channel
Purkinje cells are the principal neurons of the cerebellar cortex and have an extensive and elaborate dendritic tree. Chronic activation of type I metabotropic glutamate receptors inhibits Purkinje cell dendritic growth in organotypic cerebellar slice cultures. This effect is mediated by calcium influx through P/Q-type and T-type Ca2+ channels. We have now studied the role of the plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase2 (PMCA2), a major calcium extrusion pump, for Purkinje cell dendritic development. We found that PMCA2 is strongly expressed in the plasma membrane and dendritic spines of Purkinje cells in organotypic slice cultures compatible with a role for controlling the local dendritic calcium equilibrium. Inhibition of PMCA2 activity by carboxyeosin resulted in a moderate reduction of Purkinje cell dendritic tree size indicating that the extrusion of calcium by PMCA2 is important for maintaining the dendritic calcium concentration and controlling dendritic growth. When inhibition of PMCA2 was combined with stimulation of type I metabotropic glutamate receptors, it partially rescued dendritic morphology. This protection can be explained by a compensatory inactivation of voltage-gated calcium channels in Purkinje cells after PMCA2 inhibition. Our results demonstrate that PMCA2 activity is an important regulator of the dendritic calcium equilibrium controlling Purkinje cell dendritic growth.
Studies of Purkinje cell dendritic spine proliferation after transplantation of cytosine arabinoside (Ara C) treated organotypic
cerebellar cultures with glia and granule cells, either separately and in combination, were reviewed. Exposure of cerebellar explants to
Ara C for the first 5 days in vitro results in the destruction of granule cells, the only excitatory cortical neurons, and oligodendroglia, and
functionally compromises surviving astrocytes so that they do not appose neuronal membranes. In the absence of granule cells, there is a sprouting of Purkinje cell recurrent axon collaterals, the terminals of which project to and form heterotypical synapses with Purkinje cell
dendritic spines, which are usually occupied by terminals of granule cell axons (parallel fibers). After this reorganization has been achieved, the explants can be transplanted with the missing elements to induce a second round of reorganization, with approximate restoration of
the usual interneuronal relationships. Addition of both granule cells and glia resulted in a proliferation of clusters of Purkinje cell
dendritic spines, which formed synapses with axon terminals of transplanted granule cells, and as synapse formation progressed, the spine
clusters became reduced. Transplantation of Ara C-treated cultures with glia alone resulted in a proliferation of clusters of Purkinje cell
dendritic spines, but in the absence of granule cells the spines remained unattached, and the clusters persisted throughout the period of
observation. Purkinje cell dendritic spine proliferation was induced by exposure of Ara C-treated cultures to astrocyte-conditioned
medium. When Ara C-treated cerebella cultures were transplanted with granule cells in the absence of functional glia, parallel fiber-
Purkinje cell dendritic spine synapses formed, but no clusters of Purkinje cell dendritic spines were observed. These findings suggest that
Purkinje cell dendritic spine proliferation is induced by an astrocyte-secreted factor, resulting in an expansion of postsynaptic sites
available for synaptogenesis.
Eph receptor tyrosine kinases are involved in many cellular processes. In the developing brain, they act as migratory and cell adhesive cues while in the adult brain they regulate dendritic spine plasticity. Here we show a new role for Eph receptor signalling in the cerebellar cortex. Cerebellar Purkinje cells are innervated by two different excitatory inputs. The climbing fibres contact the proximal dendritic domain of Purkinje cells, where synapse and spine density is low; the parallel fibres contact the distal dendritic domain, where synapse and spine density is high. Interestingly, Purkinje cells have the intrinsic ability to generate a high number of spines over their entire dendritic arborisations, which can be innervated by the parallel fibres. However, the climbing fibre input continuously exerts an activity-dependent repression on parallel fibre synapses, thus confining them to the distal Purkinje cell dendritic domain. Such repression persists after Eph receptor activation, but is overridden by Eph receptor inhibition with EphA4/Fc in neonatal cultured cerebellar slices as well as mature acute cerebellar slices, following in vivo infusion of the EphA4/Fc inhibitor and in EphB receptor-deficient mice. When electrical activity is blocked in vivo by tetrodotoxin leading to a high spine density in Purkinje cell proximal dendrites, stimulation of Eph receptor activation recapitulates the spine repressive effects of climbing fibres. These results suggest that Eph receptor signalling mediates the repression of spine proliferation induced by climbing fibre activity in Purkinje cell proximal dendrites. Such repression is necessary to maintain the correct architecture of the cerebellar cortex.
We report on a newly discovered serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) reactivity to Purkinje cells (PCs) associated with subacute inflammatory cerebellar ataxia. The patient, a previously healthy 33-year-old lady, presented with severe limb and gait ataxia, dysarthria, and diplopia two weeks after she had recovered from a common cold. Immunohistochemical studies on mouse, rat, and monkey brain sections revealed binding of a high-titer (up to 1:10,000) IgG antibody to the cerebellar molecular layer, Purkinje cell (PC) layer, and white matter. The antibody is highly specific for PCs and binds to the cytoplasm as well as to the inner side of the membrane of PC somata, dendrites and axons. It is produced by B cell clones within the CNS, belongs to the IgG1 subclass, and activates complement in vitro. Western blotting of primate cerebellum extract revealed binding of CSF and serum IgG to an 80-97 kDa protein. Extensive control studies were performed to rule out a broad panel of previously described paraneoplastic and non-paraneoplastic antibodies known to be associated with cerebellar ataxia. Screening of >9000 human full length proteins by means of a protein array and additional confirmatory experiments revealed Rho GTPase activating protein 26 (ARHGAP26, GRAF, oligophrenin-1-like protein) as the target antigen. Preadsorption of the patient's serum with human ARHGAP26 but not preadsorption with other proteins resulted in complete loss of PC staining. Our findings suggest a role of autoimmunity against ARHGAP26 in the pathogenesis of subacute inflammatory cerebellar ataxia, and extend the panel of diagnostic markers for this devastating disease.
The geometric and subcellular organization of axon arbors distributes and regulates electrical signaling in neurons and networks, but the underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. In rodent cerebellar cortex, stellate interneurons elaborate characteristic axon arbors that selectively innervate Purkinje cell dendrites and likely regulate dendritic integration. We used GFP BAC transgenic reporter mice to examine the cellular processes and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of stellate cell axons and their innervation pattern. We show that stellate axons are organized and guided towards Purkinje cell dendrites by an intermediate scaffold of Bergmann glial (BG) fibers. The L1 family immunoglobulin protein Close Homologue of L1 (CHL1) is localized to apical BG fibers and stellate cells during the development of stellate axon arbors. In the absence of CHL1, stellate axons deviate from BG fibers and show aberrant branching and orientation. Furthermore, synapse formation between aberrant stellate axons and Purkinje dendrites is reduced and cannot be maintained, leading to progressive atrophy of axon terminals. These results establish BG fibers as a guiding scaffold and CHL1 a molecular signal in the organization of stellate axon arbors and in directing their dendritic innervation.
Large principal neurons in vertebrate neural circuits often consist of distinct anatomical and physiological compartments, which allow distributed and compartmentalized signaling and greatly increase the computational power of single neurons. Superimposed upon this intrinsic compartmental architecture is the subcellular organization of synaptic inputs, which exert local control over the biophysical properties and differentially regulate the input, integration, and output of principal neurons. In the cerebellar cortex, Purkinje neurons are innervated by GABA inhibitory synapses from the stellate and basket cells at dendrites and soma-axon initial (AIS) segments, respectively. Previous studies have shown that an L1 family immunoglobulin cell adhesion molecule (neurofascin186) is distributed as a subcellular gradient and directs basket cell axons to innervate Purkinje cell AIS. Here, we examine the mechanisms underlying the innervation of Purkinje cell dendrites by stellate axons. We found that stellate axons are organized into characteristic trajectories and guided towards Purkinje dendrites by an intermediate scaffold of astroglia—the Bergmann glial (BG) fibers. Another member of L1 family, Close Homologue of L1 (CHL1), is localized to BG fibers and stellate cells, and contributes to the organization of stellate axons along BG fibers and to the innervation of Purkinje cell dendrites.
Subcellular synapse organization regulates the input, integration, and output of target neurons. An astroglial scaffold and an L1 family cell adhesion molecule contribute to dendritic innervation by GABA inhibitory synapses.
Bergmann glia (BG) are unipolar cerebellar astrocytes. The somata of mature BG reside in the Purkinje cell layer and extend radially arranged processes to the pial surface. BG have multiple branched processes, which enwrap the synapses of Purkinje cell dendrites. They migrate from the ventricular zone and align next to the Purkinje cell layer during development. Previously, we reported that Notch1, Notch2, and RBPj genes in the BG play crucial roles in the monolayer formation and morphogenesis of BG. However, it remains to be determined which ligand activates Nocth1 and Notch 2 on BG. Delta-like 1 (Dll1) is a major ligand of Notch receptors that is expressed in the developing cerebellum.
In this study, we used human glial fibrillary acidic protein (hGFAP) promoter-driven Cre-mediated recombination to delete Dll1 in BG. Dll1-conditional mutant mice showed disorganization of Bergmann fibers, ectopic localization of BG in the molecular layer and a reduction in the number of BG.
These results suggest that Dll1 is required for the formation of the BG layer and its morphological maturation, apparently through a Notch1/2-RBPj dependent signaling pathway.
Bergmann glia; Notch signaling; Delta like 1; Conditional knockout mouse; Monolayer formation
The expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the N-terminal region of ataxin-7 (atxn7) is the causative event in spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7), an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder mainly characterized by progressive, selective loss of rod-cone photoreceptors and cerebellar Purkinje and granule cells. The molecular and cellular processes underlying this restricted neuronal vulnerability, which contrasts with the broad expression pattern of atxn7, remains one of the most enigmatic features of SCA7, and more generally of all polyQ disorders. To gain insight into this specific neuronal vulnerability and achieve a better understanding of atxn7 function, we carried out a functional analysis of this protein in the teleost fish Danio rerio. We characterized the zebrafish atxn7 gene and its transcription pattern, and by making use of morpholino-oligonucleotide-mediated gene inactivation, we analysed the phenotypes induced following mild or severe zebrafish atxn7 depletion. Severe or nearly complete zebrafish atxn7 loss-of-function markedly impaired embryonic development, leading to both early embryonic lethality and severely deformed embryos. More importantly, in relation to SCA7, moderate depletion of the protein specifically, albeit partially, prevented the differentiation of both retina photoreceptors and cerebellar Purkinje and granule cells. In addition, [1–232] human atxn7 fragment rescued these phenotypes showing strong function conservation of this protein through evolution. The specific requirement for zebrafish atxn7 in the proper differentiation of cerebellar neurons provides, to our knowledge, the first in vivo evidence of a direct functional relationship between atxn7 and the differentiation of Purkinje and granule cells, the most crucial neurons affected in SCA7 and most other polyQ-mediated SCAs. These findings further suggest that altered protein function may play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease, an important step toward the development of future therapeutic strategies.
Bergmann glial cells are specialized astrocytes in the cerebellum. In the mature cerebellar molecular layer, Bergmann glial processes are closely associated with Purkinje cells, enclosing Purkinje cell dendritic synapses with a glial sheath. There is intensive gap junctional coupling between Bergmann glial processes, but their significance in cerebellar functions is not known. Connexin43 (Cx43), a major component of astrocytic gap junction channels, is abundantly expressed in Bergmann glial cells. To examine the role of Cx43-mediated gap junctions between Bergmann glial cells in cerebellar functions, we generated Cx43 conditional knockout mice with the S100b-Cre transgenic line (Cx43fl/fl:S100b-Cre), which exhibited a significant loss of Cx43 in the Bergmann glial cells and astrocytes in the cerebellum with a postnatal onset. The Cx43fl/fl:S100b-Cre mice had normal cerebellar architecture. Although gap junctional coupling between the Bergmann glial cells measured by spreading of microinjected Lucifer yellow was virtually abolished in Cx43fl/fl:S100b-Cre mice, electrophysiologic analysis revealed that cerebellar long-term depression could be induced and maintained normally in their cerebellar slices. In addition, at the behavioral level, Cx43fl/fl:S100b-Cre mice had normal motor coordination in the rotarod task and normal conditioned eyelid response. Our findings suggest that Cx43-mediated gap junctional coupling between Bergmann glial cells is not necessary for the neuron-glia interactions required for cerebellum-dependent motor coordination and motor learning.
connexin43; gap junction; Bergmann glia; astrocyte; Cre recombinase; conditional knockout; eyeblink conditioning; cerebellar long-term depression