The rocker mice are hereditary ataxic mutants that carry a point mutation in the gene encoding the CaV2.1 (P/Q-type) Ca2+ channel α1 subunit, and show the mildest symptoms among the reported CaV2.1 mutant mice. We studied the basic characteristics of the rocker mutant Ca2+ channel and their impacts on excitatory synaptic transmission in cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs). In acutely dissociated PC somas, the rocker mutant channel showed a moderate reduction in Ca2+ channel current density, whereas its kinetics and voltage dependency of gating remained nearly normal. Despite the small changes in channel function, synaptic transmission in the parallel fiber (PF)–PC synapses was severely impaired. The climbing fiber inputs onto PCs showed a moderate impairment but could elicit normal complex spikes. Presynaptic function of the PF–PC synapses, however, was unexpectedly almost normal in terms of paired-pulse facilitation, sensitivity to extracellular Ca2+ concentration and glutamate concentration in synaptic clefts. Electron microscopic analyses including freeze-fracture replica labeling revealed that both the number and density of postsynaptic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors substantially decreased without gross structural changes of the PF–PC synapses. We also observed an abnormal arborization of PC dendrites in young adult rocker mice (∼ 1 month old). These lines of evidence suggest that even a moderate dysfunction of CaV2.1 Ca2+ channel can cause substantial changes in postsynaptic molecular composition of the PF–PC synapses and dendritic structure of PCs.
|Translated title of the contribution||A CaV2.1 calcium channel mutation rocker reduces the number of postsynaptic AMPA receptors in parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses|
|Pages (from-to)||2993 - 3007|
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||European Journal of Neuroscience|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2006|