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Neuroscience. 1997 Sep;80(1):175-90.

Abnormalities in the cerebellum and brainstem in homozygous lurcher mice.

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Laboratoire d'Histologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.


The lurcher mutation induces Purkinje cell degeneration in heterozygous mice, and neonatal death in homozygous animals. Using the D6Mit16 Simple Sequence Length Polymorphic marker in F2 hybrids between AKR +/+ mice and B6+/Lc mice, homozygous lurcher fetuses and newborns as well as heterozygous and normal littermates were identified, and their brain morphology was analysed. In homozygous lurcher embryos at embryonic day 18 and neonates the cerebellum was hypotrophic, particularly in the posterior half. Purkinje cells were smaller in the whole cerebellum and showed a maturational delay. Calretinin-positive cells were less frequently observed in the depth of the vermis than in normal mice. Both Purkinje cells and the vermal calretinin-positive cells were more abnormal in fetuses at day 19 and newborn mutants than one day earlier. An abnormal number of pycnotic cells were observed in the cerebellum, especially in newborn mutants. Brainstem abnormalities were characterized by abnormal curvature, caudal displacement of the pontine gray nuclei which were located caudally along the ventral border of the superior olivary complex, a drastic decrease in Purkinje cell axons in all the vestibular nuclei and the presence of dystrophic processes in at least two calbindin-positive cell groups of the dorsal pontine region. These results show that the mutation, which is semidominant in Purkinje cells, is recessive in other cell groups of the cerebellum and brainstem. They reveal that the sequence leading to Purkinje cell death appears to be similar in homozygous and heterozygous mice, although occurring earlier and worsening more quickly in the former. Lastly, they confirm the absence of effect of the mutation on the neurons of the inferior olivary complex.

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