Differential distribution of vesicular glutamate transporters in the rat cerebellar cortex

Neuroscience. 2003;117(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00943-0.


The chemical organization of excitatory axon terminals in the rat cerebellar cortex was examined by immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization histochemistry of vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 (VGluT1 and VGluT2). Chemical depletion of the inferior olivary complex neurons by 3-acetylpyridine treatment almost completely removed VGluT2 immunoreactivity from the molecular layer, leaving VGluT1 immunoreactivity apparently intact. On the other hand, neuronal deprivation of the cerebellar cortex by kainic acid injection induced a large loss of VGluT1 immunoreactivity in the molecular layer. In the cerebellar granular layer, both VGluT1 and VGluT2 immunoreactivities were found in mossy fiber terminals, and the two immunoreactivities were mostly colocalized in single-axon terminals. Signals for mRNA encoding VGluT2 were found in the inferior olivary complex, and those for VGluT1 and VGluT2 mRNAs were observed in most brainstem precerebellar nuclei sending mossy fibers, such as the pontine, pontine tegmental reticular, lateral reticular and external cuneate nuclei. These results indicate that climbing and parallel fibers selectively use VGluT2 and VGluT1, respectively, whereas mossy fibers apply both VGluT1 and VGluT2 together to accumulate glutamate into synaptic vesicles. Since climbing-fiber and parallel-fiber terminals are known to make depressing and facilitating synapses, respectively, VGluT1 and VGluT2 might have distinct properties associated with those synaptic characteristics. Thus, it would be the next interesting issue to determine whether mossy-fiber terminals co-expressing VGluT1 and VGluT2 show synaptic facilitation or depression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Cerebellar Cortex / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Neural Pathways / chemistry
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Slc17a6 protein, rat
  • Slc17a7 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins