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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Jun 22;260(4):513-25.

Initial junctions between developing parallel fibers and Purkinje cells are different from mature synaptic junctions.


During postnatal development of cerebellar cortex, junctions are formed between parallel fiber axons and the shafts of Purkinje cell dendrites. These shaft junctions resemble synaptic junctions on spines in thin sections, in that the axon contains a cluster of synaptic vesicles, and the pre- and postjunctional membranes are lined by electron-dense material. The shaft junctions do not have the aggregate of particles arrayed on the extracellular half of the postjunctional membrane that is characteristic of mature spine synaptic junctions in freeze-fractured preparations, however, and so presumably have a different protein composition. Shaft junctions are transient specializations, present only in developing tissue, but do not appear simply to be intermediates in the formation of mature spine synaptic junctions. In normal development, spines are formed by the Purkinje cell dendrite at sites not occupied by shaft junctions. Moreover, in certain neurological mutant mice, shaft junctions form in the absence of spine synapses, and in other systems spines develop in the absence of shaft junctions. We suggest that shaft junctions are a class of synapse formed during development which is distinguished by its capacity to dissociate, and that only some fraction of the parallel fibers forming shaft synapses with a developing Purkinje cell will have established spine synapses in the adult.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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