Perineuronal Nets in the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei Regulate GABAergic Transmission and Delay Eyeblink Conditioning

J Neurosci. 2018 Jul 4;38(27):6130-6144. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3238-17.2018. Epub 2018 Jun 1.


Perineuronal nets (PNNs), composed mainly of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, are the extracellular matrix that surrounds cell bodies, proximal dendrites, and axon initial segments of adult CNS neurons. PNNs are known to regulate neuronal plasticity, although their physiological roles in cerebellar functions have yet to be elucidated. Here, we investigated the contribution of PNNs to GABAergic transmission from cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) to large glutamatergic neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) in male mice by recording IPSCs from cerebellar slices, in which PNNs were depleted with chondroitinase ABC (ChABC). We found that PNN depletion increased the amplitude of evoked IPSCs and enhanced the paired-pulse depression. ChABC treatment also facilitated spontaneous IPSCs and increased the miniature IPSC frequency without changing not only the amplitude but also the density of PC terminals, suggesting that PNN depletion enhances presynaptic GABA release. We also demonstrated that the enhanced GABAergic transmission facilitated rebound firing in large glutamatergic DCN neurons, which is expected to result in the efficient induction of synaptic plasticity at synapses onto DCN neurons. Furthermore, we tested whether PNN depletion affects cerebellar motor learning. Mice having received the enzyme into the interpositus nuclei, which are responsible for delay eyeblink conditioning, exhibited the conditioned response at a significantly higher rate than control mice. Therefore, our results suggest that PNNs of the DCN suppress GABAergic transmission between PCs and large glutamatergic DCN neurons and restrict synaptic plasticity associated with motor learning in the adult cerebellum.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are one of the extracellular matrices of adult CNS neurons and implicated in regulating various brain functions. Here we found that enzymatic PNN depletion in the mouse deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) reduced the paired-pulse ratio of IPSCs and increased the miniature IPSC frequency without changing the amplitude, suggesting that PNN depletion enhances GABA release from the presynaptic Purkinje cell (PC) terminals. Mice having received the enzyme in the interpositus nuclei exhibited a higher conditioned response rate in delay eyeblink conditioning than control mice. These results suggest that PNNs regulate presynaptic functions of PC terminals in the DCN and functional plasticity of synapses on DCN neurons, which influences the flexibility of adult cerebellar functions.

Keywords: GABAergic transmission; chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan; deep cerebellar nuclei; eyeblink conditioning; motor learning; perineuronal net.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blinking / physiology
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*