Increased occurrence of climbing fiber inputs to the cerebellar flocculus in a mutant mouse is correlated with the timing delay of optokinetic response


Dr T. Hirano, 1Department of Biophysics, as above.


The cerebellum plays an essential role in motor control, and its dysfunction may delay the onset of action and disrupt smooth and efficient movement. A Purkinje neuron (PN), the sole output cell type in the cerebellar cortex, receives two distinct types of excitatory synaptic inputs, numerous weak inputs from granule neurons (GNs) and occasional strong inputs from a climbing fiber (CF). The role of each input and the significance of low firing rate of CF have been studied. Here we show that the increased occurrence of CF inputs altered the firing pattern of a PN, which was correlated with timing of a reflex. We used the mutant mice deficient in the glutamate receptor δ2 subunit, a molecule related to ionotropic glutamate receptor specifically expressed at GN–PN synapses. The mutant mouse shows more frequent CF inputs and longer timing delay in optokinetic response (OKR), reflex eye movement that follows slow motion of a large visual field. A PN shows two types of action potentials: complex spikes (CS) induced by CF inputs; and simple spikes. They changed respective firing rates during sinusoidal optokinetic stimulation, and the timing of each firing rate modulation was similar in wild-type and mutant mice. However, increased occurrence of CS in the mutant altered the total firing pattern of a PN in the flocculus, which was correlated with the timing delay of OKR. These results support the functional merit of low firing rate of CF in motor control.