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Biol Cell. 2007 Jul;99(7):363-78.

Synaptic signalling in cerebellar plasticity.

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Department of Biology (Area 3), University of York, Heslington, York, UK.


A major goal of learning and memory research is to correlate the function of molecules with the behaviour of organisms. The beautiful laminar structure of the cerebellar cortex lends itself to the study of synaptic plasticity, because its clearly defined patterns of neurons and their synapses form circuits that have been implicated in simple motor behaviour paradigms. The best understood in terms of molecular mechanism is the parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapse, where presynaptic long-term potentiation and postsynaptic long-term depression and potentiation finely tune cerebellar output. Our understanding of these forms of plasticity has mostly come from the electrophysiological and behavioural analysis of knockout mutant mice, but more recently the knock-in of synaptic molecules with mutated phosphorylation sites and binding domains has provided more detailed insights into the signalling events. The present review details the major forms of plasticity in the cerebellar cortex, with particular attention to the membrane trafficking and intracellular signalling responsible. This overview of the current literature suggests it will not be long before the involvement of the cerebellum in certain motor behaviours is fully explained in molecular terms.

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