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Dev Neurobiol. 2009 Oct;69(12):811-24. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20742.

Contribution of the neural cell recognition molecule NB-3 to synapse formation between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells in mouse.

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Department of Bioengineering, Nagaoka University of Technology, Nagaoka, Niigata 940-2188, Japan.


The neural cell recognition molecule NB-3, also referred to as contactin-6, is expressed prominently in the developing nervous system after birth and its deficiency has been shown to cause impairment in motor coordination. Here, we investigated the contribution of NB-3 to cerebellar development, focusing on lobule 3 where NB-3 was expressed in granule cells but not in Purkinje cells. In the developing molecular layer, the neural cell recognition molecules TAG-1, L1, and NB-3 formed distinct expression zones from the external granule cell layer to the internal granule cell layer (IGL), respectively. The NB-3-immunoreactive zone did not overlap with TAG-1-immunoreactive zone. By contrast, the L1-immunoreactive zone overlapped with both the TAG-1- and NB-3-immunoreactive zones. NB-3-positive puncta overlapped with vesicular glutamate transporter 1, a presynaptic marker and were apposed close to metabotropic glutamate receptor 1A, a postsynaptic marker, indicating that NB-3 is localized presynaptically at glutamatergic synapses between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells. In NB-3 knockout mice, L1 immunoreactive signals were increased in the IGL at postnatal day (P) 5, suggesting the increase in the number of immature granule cells of the IGL. In addition, the density of parallel fiber synaptic terminals was reduced in NB-3 knockout mice relative to wild-type mice at P5 to P10. In parallel with these findings, caspase-dependent cell death was significantly increased in the NB- 3-deficient cerebellum at P15. Collectively, our results indicate that NB-3 deficiency affects synapse formation during postnatal cerebellar development.

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