Protein kinase C (PKC), a family of serine/threonine protein kinases, mediates a myriad of patho-physiological cellular events in various tissues. The originally discovered PKC (conventional) requires the binding of diacylglycerol and Ca2+ for full activation. The conventional PKC consists of four isoforms, PKCα, PKCβI/βII, and PKCγ. PKCα and PKCβI/βII are expressed in the cells of various tissues including the brain, while PKCγ is present specifically in neurons of the brain and spinal cord. The cerebellum expresses the largest amount of PKC with all its four isoforms. Purkinje cells express PKCα and PKCγ. Previous studies have shown that PKCα is involved in the induction of long-term depression (LTD) at parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses. On the other hand, analysis of PKCγ-deficient mice has revealed that PKCγ plays a critical role in eliminating supernumerary climbing fiber synapses from developing Purkinje cells. Although why PKCα has no compensatory action in climbing fiber pruning in PKCγ-deficient Purkinje cells had so far remained unclear, we have recently demonstrated that PKCα is also capable of pruning supernumerary climbing fiber synapses, but the expression levels of PKCα are too low to achieve pruning in PKCγ-null Purkinje cells. Notably, although PKCγ is most abundant in Purkinje cells, its physiological role in mature Purkinje cells remained totally unknown. In addition to a concise review of the physiological and pathological roles of conventional PKCs in Purkinje cells, this report postulates a contribution of PKCα in developing Purkinje cells and a possible involvement of PKCγ in motor coordination in the mature cerebellum.
Keywords: Cerebellum; LTD; PKCγ; Protein kinase C; Purkinje cell.