• cerebellum;
  • compartmentalization;
  • evolution;
  • granule cells;
  • Purkinje cells

The cerebellum controls smooth and skillful movements and it is also involved in higher cognitive and emotional functions. The cerebellum is derived from the dorsal part of the anterior hindbrain and contains two groups of cerebellar neurons: glutamatergic and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons. Purkinje cells are GABAergic and granule cells are glutamatergic. Granule and Purkinje cells receive input from outside of the cerebellum from mossy and climbing fibers. Genetic analysis of mice and zebrafish has revealed genetic cascades that control the development of the cerebellum and cerebellar neural circuits. During early neurogenesis, rostrocaudal patterning by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as Otx2,Gbx2 and Fgf8, plays an important role in the positioning and formation of the cerebellar primordium. The cerebellar glutamatergic neurons are derived from progenitors in the cerebellar rhombic lip, which express the proneural gene Atoh1. The GABAergic neurons are derived from progenitors in the ventricular zone, which express the proneural gene Ptf1a. The mossy and climbing fiber neurons originate from progenitors in the hindbrain rhombic lip that express Atoh1 or Ptf1a. Purkinje cells exhibit mediolateral compartmentalization determined on the birthdate of Purkinje cells, and linked to the precise neural circuitry formation. Recent studies have shown that anatomy and development of the cerebellum is conserved between mammals and bony fish (teleost species). In this review, we describe the development of cerebellar neurons and neural circuitry, and discuss their evolution by comparing developmental processes of mammalian and teleost cerebellum.