• Purkinje cell;
  • whole mount immunohistochemistry;
  • compartmentation;
  • zebrin;
  • avian cerebellum


Purkinje cells in the cerebellum express the antigen zebrin II (aldolase C) in many vertebrates. In mammals, zebrin is expressed in a parasagittal fashion, with alternating immunopositive and immunonegative stripes. Whether a similar pattern is expressed in birds is unknown. Here we present the first investigation into zebrin II expression in a bird: the adult pigeon (Columba livia). Western blotting of pigeon cerebellar homogenates reveals a single polypeptide with an apparent molecular weight of 36 kDa that is indistinguishable from zebrin II in the mouse. Zebrin II expression in the pigeon cerebellum is prominent in Purkinje cells, including their dendrites, somata, axons, and axon terminals. Parasagittal stripes were apparent with bands of Purkinje cells that strongly expressed zebrin II (+ve) alternating with bands that expressed zebrin II weakly or not at all (−ve). The stripes were most prominent in folium IXcd, where there were seven +ve/−ve stripes, bilaterally. In folia VI–IXab, several thin stripes were observed spanning the mediolateral extent of the folia, including three pairs of +ve/−ve stripes that extended across the lateral surface of the cerebellum. In folium VI the zebrin II expression in Purkinje cells was stronger overall, resulting in less apparent stripes. In folia II–V, four distinct +ve/−ve stripes were apparent. Finally, in folia I (lingula) and X (nodulus) all Purkinje cells strongly expressed zebrin II. These data are compared with studies of zebrin II expression in other species, as well as physiological and neuroanatomical studies that address the parasagittal organization of the pigeon cerebellum. J. Comp. Neurol. 501:619–630, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.