On the transmission properties of synapses made between granule cells and cerebellar Purkinje cells

  • Robert Sims

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the cerebellar cortex, forms of both long-term depression (LTD) and long-term potentiation (LTP) can be observed at parallel fibre (PF) - Purkinje cell (PC) synapses. A presynaptic variant of cerebellar LTP can be evoked in PCs by raised frequency stimulation (RFS) of parallel fibre at 4-16Hz for 15s. This form of LTP is dependent on protein kinase A (PKA) and nitric oxide (NO), and can spread to distant synapses. Application of an extracellular NO scavenger, cPTIO, was found to prevent the spread of LTP to distant PF synapses in rat cerebellar slices.
G-substrate may be an important mediator of the NO-dependent pathway for LTD. 8-16Hz RFS of PFs without a high concentration of calcium chelator in the postsynaptic cell evokes LTD. In cerebellar slices from wild-type and transgenic, G-substrate knockout mice, 8Hz RFS was applied to PFs, with a low concentration of postsynaptic calcium chelator. In PCs from wild-type mice, LTD predominated, whereas in those from transgenic mice LTP predominated.
The ascending axon (AA) segment of the granule cell axon forms synapses with PCs as well as the PF segment. PPF and fluctuation analysis of EPSCs in rat PCs confirmed that the release sites of AA synapses have a greater probability of transmitter release than PF synapses. Furthermore, AA release sites have greater mean quantal amplitude than PF synapses, which is not due to a different type of postsynaptic receptor. AA synapses were found to have limited capacity to undergo the presynaptic variant of LTP, and were potentiated less than PF synapses in the presence of the PKA activator, forskolin. AA synapses also did not undergo the postsynaptic form of LTP, nor LTD induced by conjunctive stimulation of climbing fibre and PF.
Date of AwardDec 2003
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNicholas A. Hartell (Supervisor)


  • cerebellum
  • Purkinje cell
  • granule cell
  • LTP
  • LTD

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