Ankyrin-based subcellular gradient of neurofascin, an immunoglobulin family protein, directs GABAergic innervation at purkinje axon initial segment

Cell. 2004 Oct 15;119(2):257-72. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2004.10.004.


Distinct classes of GABAergic synapses are segregated into subcellular domains (i.e., dendrite, soma, and axon initial segment-AIS), thereby differentially regulating the input, integration, and output of principal neurons. In cerebellum, for example, basket interneurons make exquisitely precise "pinceau synapses" on AIS of Purkinje neurons, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. Using BAC transgenic reporter mice, we found that basket axons always contacted Purkinje soma before innervating AIS. This synapse targeting process followed the establishment of a subcellular gradient of neurofascin186 (NF186), an L1 family immunoglobulin cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM), along the Purkinje AIS-soma axis. This gradient was dependent on ankyrinG, an AIS-restricted membrane adaptor protein that recruits NF186. In the absence of neurofascin gradient, basket axons lost directional growth along Purkinje neurons and precisely followed NF186 to ectopic locations. Disruption of NF186-ankyrinG interactions at AIS reduced pinceau synapse formation. These results implicate ankyrin-based localization of L1CAMs in subcellular organization of GABAergic synapses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ankyrins / metabolism*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Shape
  • Chemotaxis / physiology
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Purkinje Cells / cytology*
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism*
  • Synapses / chemistry
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Ankyrins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nfasc protein, mouse
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid