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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Jun 27;363(1500):2173-86. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.2270.

Type-1 metabotropic glutamate receptor in cerebellar Purkinje cells: a key molecule responsible for long-term depression, endocannabinoid signalling and synapse elimination.

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Department of Cellular Neuroscience, Osaka University, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


The cerebellum is a brain structure involved in the coordination, control and learning of movements, and elucidation of its function is an important issue. Japanese scholars have made seminal contributions in this field of neuroscience. Electrophysiological studies of the cerebellum have a long history in Japan since the pioneering works by Ito and Sasaki. Elucidation of the basic circuit diagram of the cerebellum in the 1960s was followed by the construction of cerebellar network theories and finding of their neural correlates in the 1970s. A theoretically predicted synaptic plasticity, long-term depression (LTD) at parallel fibre to Purkinje cell synapse, was demonstrated experimentally in 1982 by Ito and co-workers. Since then, Japanese neuroscientists from various disciplines participated in this field and have made major contributions to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying LTD. An important pathway for LTD induction is type-1 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1) and its downstream signal transduction in Purkinje cells. Sugiyama and co-workers demonstrated the presence of mGluRs and Nakanishi and his pupils identified the molecular structures and functions of the mGluR family. Moreover, the authors contributed to the discovery and elucidation of several novel functions of mGluR1 in cerebellar Purkinje cells. mGluR1 turned out to be crucial for the release of endocannabinoid from Purkinje cells and the resultant retrograde suppression of transmitter release. It was also found that mGluR1 and its downstream signal transduction in Purkinje cells are indispensable for the elimination of redundant synapses during post-natal cerebellar development. This article overviews the seminal works by Japanese neuroscientists, focusing on mGluR1 signalling in cerebellar Purkinje cells.

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