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Keywords:

  • development;
  • cerebellum;
  • Purkinje cell;
  • glutamate receptor subunits 2/3;
  • immunocytochemistry

Abstract

The expression and subcellular location of glutamate receptor subunits 2&3 was investigated in the developing postnatal cerebellum. Immunoblotting revealed that glutamate receptor subunits 2/3 is expressed in an identical pattern of immunoreactive bands of approximately 108 kDa from postnatal day zero to adult animals. Light microscopy showed that within the cerebellar cortex, GluR 2/3 immunoreactivity was essentially confined to Purkinje neurons. Strong immunostaining could be observed at postnatal days 1–3 within Purkinje cell bodies and primary dendrites. With ongoing development, the cell body and an increasingly elaborate dendritic tree was outlined by immunoreaction product. In adult animals, staining of Purkinje cell dendrites was patchy, and staining intensity of the cell body, in particular, was greatly reduced. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that during early postnatal development, immunoreaction product was localized to the cell membrane, but was not confined to postsynaptic densities. From the second postnatal week, glutamate receptor subunits 2/3 immunoreactivity was largely restricted to postsynaptic densities. These observations reveal a developmentally regulated refinement of the subcellular distribution of defining subunits of the AMPA-type glutamate receptor. The presence of membrane bound receptors prior to the formation of synapses also provides a rationale for the known transmitter-mediated modulation of Purkinje cell dendritogenesis. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.