TrkB is necessary for pruning at the climbing fibre-Purkinje cell synapse in the developing murine cerebellum

J Physiol. 2007 Jul 15;582(Pt 2):629-46. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2007.133561. Epub 2007 Apr 26.


TrkB, the cognate receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-4, has been implicated in regulating synapse formation in the central nervous system. Here we asked whether TrkB plays a role in the maturation of the climbing fibre-Purkinje cell (CF-PC) synapse. In rodent cerebellum, Purkinje cells are initially innervated by multiple climbing fibres that are subsequently culled to assume the mature mono-innervated state, and whose contacts translocate from the soma to the dendrites. By employing transgenic mice hypomorphic or null for TrkB expression, our results indicated that perturbation of TrkB in the immature cerebellum resulted in ataxia, that Purkinje cells remained multiply innervated by climbing fibres beyond the normal developmental time frame, and that synaptic transmission at the parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapse remained functionally unaltered. Mechanistically, we present evidence that attributes the persistence of multiple climbing fibre innervation to an obscured discrimination of relative strengths among competing climbing fibres. Soma-to-dendrite translocation of climbing fibre terminals was unaffected. Thus, TrkB regulates pruning but not translocation of nascent CF-PC synaptic contacts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology*
  • Ataxia / etiology
  • Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellar Cortex / abnormalities
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Postural Balance
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Receptor, trkB / deficiency
  • Receptor, trkB / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Receptor, trkB