Synapse elimination in the developing cerebellum

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Dec;70(24):4667-80. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1405-2. Epub 2013 Jun 28.


Neural circuits in neonatal animals contain numerous redundant synapses that are functionally immature. During the postnatal period, unnecessary synapses are eliminated while functionally important synapses become stronger and mature. The climbing fiber (CF) to the Purkinje cell (PC) synapse is a representative model for the analysis of postnatal refinement of neuronal circuits in the central nervous system. PCs are initially innervated by multiple CFs with similar strengths around postnatal day 3 (P3). Only a single CF is selectively strengthened during P3-P7 (functional differentiation), and the strengthened CF undergoes translocation from soma to dendrites of PCs from P9 on (dendritic translocation). Following the functional differentiation, supernumerary CF synapses on the soma are eliminated, which proceeds in two distinct phases: the early phase from P7 to around P11 and the late phase from around P12 to P17. Here, we review our current understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms of CF synapse elimination in the developing cerebellum.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cerebellum / growth & development*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neurogenesis
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*