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J Neurosci. 2000 Oct 1;20(19):7394-403.

L-Type calcium channels mediate calcium oscillations in early postnatal Purkinje neurons.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Ca(2+) signaling is important in many fundamental neuronal processes including neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity, neuronal development, and gene expression. In cerebellar Purkinje neurons, Ca(2+) signaling has been studied primarily in the dendritic region where increases in local Ca(2+) have been shown to occur with both synaptic events and spontaneous electrical activity involving P-type voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCCs), the predominant VGCC expressed by Purkinje neurons. Here we show that Ca(2+) signaling is also a prominent feature of immature Purkinje neurons at developmental stages that precede expression of dendritic structure and involves L-type rather than P-type VGCCs. Immature Purkinje neurons acutely dissociated from postnatal day 4-7 rat pups exhibit spontaneous cytoplasmic Ca(2+) oscillations. The Ca(2+) oscillations require entry of extracellular Ca(2+), are blocked by tetrodotoxin, are communicated to the nucleus, and correlate closely with patterns of endogenously generated spontaneous and evoked electrical activity recorded in the neurons. Immunocytochemistry showed that L-, N-, and P/Q-types of VGCCs are present on the somata of the Purkinje neurons at this age. However, only the L-type VGCC antagonist nimodipine effectively antagonized the Ca(2+) oscillations; inhibitors of P/Q and N-type VGCCs were relatively ineffective. Release of Ca(2+) from intracellular Ca(2+) stores significantly amplified the Ca(2+) signals of external origin. These results show that a somatic signaling pathway that generates intracellular Ca(2+) oscillations and involves L-type VGCCs and intracellular Ca(2+) stores plays a prominent role in the Ca(2+) dynamics of early developing Purkinje neurons and may play an important role in communicating developmental cues to the nucleus.

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