• immunocytochemistry;
  • ultrastructure;
  • postsynaptic;
  • cerebellum;
  • hippocampus;
  • endocytosis


Phocein, a widely expressed intracellular protein involved in clathrin- and dynamin-dependent membrane dynamics, has been shown to interact with members of the striatin family of proteins, striatin, SG2NA, and zinedin. Immunogold labeling was performed to assess subcellular localization of phocein in neurons of the rodent cerebellar cortex and hippocampal Ammon's horn. Most of the phocein-bound gold particles were located within dendritic thorns and spines of the cerebellar Purkinje cells and hippocampal pyramidal neurons, as observed previously for striatin in striatal neurons. The postsynaptic profiles containing phocein were engaged in asymmetric synapses with the main types of afferents in the cerebellum and in the hippocampus. In the cerebellum, phocein-bound immunogold particle numbers ranged from 1–20 in ∼50% of the Purkinje cell spines. In these spines most of the immunogold particles were found in the neuroplasm (∼70%) and on nonsynaptic plasma membrane domains and related structures such as endocytic-like profiles (∼18%). As soon as the first postnatal week, phocein was detected in the Purkinje cell somatic and dendritic thorns making asymmetric synapses with climbing fibers. During the following weeks the protein was located in the dendritic spines, as observed in the adult molecular layer. Finally, double immunogold labeling revealed a distribution of phocein and SG2NA suggesting that the two proteins could interact in the Purkinje cell spines. The early postnatal expression of phocein, a protein involved in membrane dynamics, suggests that it may have functional relevance in dendritic remodeling during development and potentially in spine plasticity during adulthood. J. Comp. Neurol. 495:336–350, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.