Lack of Molecular-Anatomical Evidence for GABAergic Influence on Axon Initial Segment of Cerebellar Purkinje Cells by the Pinceau Formation

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The axon initial segment (AIS) of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) is embraced by ramified axons of GABAergic basket cells (BCs) called the pinceau formation. This unique structure has been assumed to be a device for the modulation of PC outputs through electrical and/or GABAergic inhibition. Electrical inhibition is supported by enriched potassium channels, absence of sodium channels, and developed septate-like junctions between BC axons. The neurochemical basis for GABAergic inhibition, however, has not been well investigated. Here we addressed this issue using C56BL/6 mice. First, we confirmed previous observations that typical synaptic contacts were rare and confined to proximal axonal portions, with the remaining portions being mostly covered by astrocytic processes. Then we examined the expression of molecules involved in GABAergic signaling, including GABA synthetic enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), vesicular GABA transporter vesicular inhibitory amino acid transporter (VIAAT), cytomatrix active zone protein bassoon, GABA receptor GABA_[A]Rα1, and cell adhesion molecule neuroligin-2. These molecules were recruited to form a functional assembly at perisomatic BC-PC synapses and along the AIS of hippocampal and neocortical pyramidal cells. GAD and VIAAT immunogold labeling was five times lower in the pinceau formation compared with perisomatic BC terminals and showed no accumulation toward the AIS. Moreover, bassoon, neuroligin-2, and GABA_[A]Rα1 formed no detectable clusters along the ankyrin-G-positive AIS proper. These findings indicate that GABAergic signaling machinery is organized loosely and even incompletely in the pinceau formation. Together, BCs do not appear to exert GABAergic synaptic inhibition on the AIS, although the mode of action of the pinceau formation remains to be explored.


  • The Journal of Neuroscience

    The Journal of Neuroscience 32(27), 9438-9448, 2012-07-04

    Society for Neuroscience


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