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Cerebellum. 2009 Sep;8(3):277-90. doi: 10.1007/s12311-009-0093-9. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

Physiological purkinje cell death is spatiotemporally organized in the developing mouse cerebellum.

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  • 1Institute of Anatomy, Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany.


Physiological cell death is crucial for matching defined cellular populations within the central nervous system. Whereas the time course of developmental cell death in the central nervous system is well analyzed, information about its precise spatial patterning is scarce. Yet, the latter one is needed to appraise its contribution to circuit formation and refinement. Here, we document that during normal cerebellar development, dying Purkinje cells were highly localized within the vermal midline and in a lobule specific, parasagittal pattern along the whole mediolateral axis. In addition, single hot spots of cell death localized to the caudal declive and ventral lobule IX within the posterolateral fissure. These hot spots of dying Purkinje cells partly overlapped with gaps within the Purkinje cell layer which supports the classification of different gaps based on histological and molecular criteria, i.e., midline gap, patchy gaps, and raphes. Areas characterized by a high incidence of Purkinje cell death and gaps colocalize with known molecular and functional boundaries within the cerebellar cortex. Physiological cell death can thus be considered to serve as an important regulator of cerebellar histogenesis.

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