The Lurcher mouse: fresh insights from an old mutant

Brain Res. 2007 Apr 6;1140:4-18. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.11.086. Epub 2006 Jan 17.


The Lurcher mouse was first discovered in 1954 as a spontaneously occurring autosomal dominant mutation that caused the degeneration of virtually all cerebellar Purkinje cells and most olivary neurons and granule cells. More recent molecular studies revealed that Lurcher is a gain of function mutation in the delta2 glutamate receptor (GluRdelta2) that converts an alanine to threonine in the highly conserved third hydrophobic segment of GluRdelta2. The mutation converts the receptor into a constitutively leaky cation channel. The GluRdelta2 receptor is predominantly expressed in cerebellar Purkinje cells and in the heterozygous Lurcher mutant (+/Lc). Purkinje cells die due to the mutation in the GluRdelta2 receptor, while olivary neurons and granule cells degenerate due to the loss of their Purkinje cell targets. The purpose of the review is to provide highlights from 5 decades of research on the Lurcher mutant that have provided insights into the developmental mechanisms that regulate cell number during development, cerebellar pattern formation, cerebellar physiology, and the role of the cerebellum in CNS function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / anatomy & histology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants* / anatomy & histology
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants* / genetics
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants* / physiology
  • Mutation / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics


  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • glutamate receptor delta 2