Zebrin II: A polypeptide antigen expressed selectively by purkinje cells reveals compartments in rat and fish cerebellum


  • Gino Brochu,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Laboratory of Neurobiology, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec, Canada
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  • Leonard Maler,

    1. Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Dr. Richard Hawkes

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    • Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, 3330 Hospital Drive N. W., Calgary T2N4N1, Alberta, Canada
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Monoclonal antibody mab-zebrin II was generated against a crude homogenate of cerebellum and electrosensory lateral line lobe from the weakly electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus. On Western blots of fish cerebellar proteins, mab-zebrin II recognizes a single polypeptide antigen of apparent molecular weight 36 kD. Immunocytochemistry of apteronotid brains reveals that zebrin II immunoreactivity is confined exclusively to Purkinje cells in the corpus cerebelli, lateral valvula cerebelli, and the eminentia granularis anterior. Other Purkinje cells, in the medial valvula cerebelli and eminentia granularis posterior, are not zebrin II immunoreactive. Immunoreactive Purkinje cells are stained completely, including dendrites, axons, and somata. The antigen seems to be absent only from the nucleus. A similar distribution is seen in catfish, goldfish, and a mormyrid fish. Zebrin II immunoreactivity is also found in the rat cerebellum. Western blotting of rat cerebellar proteins reveals a single immunoreactive polypeptide, with apparent, molecular weight 36 kD, as in the fish. Also as in the fish, staining in the adult rat cerebellum is confined to a subset of Purkinje cells. Peroxidase reaction product is deposited throughout the immunoreactive Purkinje cells with the exception of the nucleus. No other cells in the cerebellum express zebrin II. At higher antibody concentrations, a weak glial cross reactivity is seen in most other brain regions: we believe that this is probably nonspecific. Zebrin II+ Purkinje cells are clustered together to form roughly parasagittal bands interposed by similar non-immunoreactive clusters. In all there are 7 zebrin II+ and 7 zebrin II compartments in each hemicerebellum. One immunoreactive band is adjacent to the midline; two others are disposed laterally to each side in the vermis; there is a paravermal band; and finally three more bands are identified in each hemisphere. Both in number and position, these compartments correspond precisely to the bands revealed by using another antibody, mabQ113 (anti-zebrin I). In both fish and rat the compartmentation revealed by zebrin II immunocytochemistry is related to the organization of cerebellar afferent and efferent projections and may provide clues as to the fundamental architecture of the vertebrate cerebellum.