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J Neurosci. 2016 Apr 27;36(17):4846-58. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0161-16.2016.

GluD2 Endows Parallel Fiber-Purkinje Cell Synapses with a High Regenerative Capacity.

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Department of Anatomy, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan,
Department of Cellular Neurobiology, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University, Niigata 951-8585, Japan, and.
Department of Anatomy, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan


Although injured axons usually do not regenerate in the adult CNS, parallel fibers (PFs) regenerate synaptic connections onto cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs). In this study, we investigated the role of GluD2 in this regenerative process after PF transection using GluD2-knock-out (KO) mice. All dendritic spines on distal dendrites were innervated by PFs in sham-operated wild-type controls, whereas one-third were devoid of innervation in GluD2-KO mice. In both genotypes, a steep drop in the number of PF synapses occurred with a reciprocal surge in the number of free spines on postlesion day 1, when the PF territory aberrantly expanded toward the proximal dendrites. In wild-type mice, the territory and number of PF synapses were nearly fully restored to normal on postlesion day 7, although PF density remained low. Moreover, presynaptic and postsynaptic elements were markedly enlarged, and the PF terminal-to-PC spine contact ratio increased from 1:1 to 1:2 at most synapses. On postlesion day 30, the size and contact ratio of PF synapses returned to sham-operated control values and PF density recovered through the sprouting and elongation of PF collaterals. However, GluD2-KO mice showed neither a hypertrophic response nor territorial restoration 7 d postlesion, nor the recovery of PF axons or synapses on postlesion day 30. This suggests that PF wiring regenerates initially by inducing hypertrophic responses in surviving synaptic elements (hypertrophic phase), followed by collateral formation by PF axons and retraction of PF synapses (remodeling phase). Without GluD2, no transition to these regenerative phases occurs.


The glutamate receptor GluD2 expressed at parallel fiber (PF)-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses regulates the formation and maintenance of the synapses. To investigate the role of GluD2 in their extraordinarily high regenerative capacity, the process after surgical transection of PFs was compared between wild-type and GluD2-knock-out mice. We discovered that, in wild-type mice, PF synapses regenerate initially by inducing hypertrophic responses in surviving synaptic elements, and then by sprouting and elongation of PF collaterals. Subsequently, hypertrophied PF synapses remodel into compact synapses. In GluD2-knock-out mice, PF wiring remains in the degenerative phase, showing neither a hypertrophic response nor recovery of PF axons or synapses. Our finding thus highlights that synaptic connection in the adult brain can regenerate with aid of GluD2.


GluD2; Purkinje cell; cerebellum; climbing fiber; parallel fiber; synapse regeneration

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