Deletion of Class II ADP-Ribosylation Factors in Mice Causes Tremor by the Nav1.6 Loss in Cerebellar Purkinje Cell Axon Initial Segments

J Neurosci. 2019 Aug 7;39(32):6339-6353. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2002-18.2019. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


ADP-ribosylation factors (ARFs) are a family of small monomeric GTPases comprising six members categorized into three classes: class I (ARF1, 2, and 3), class II (ARF4 and 5), and class III (ARF6). In contrast to class I and III ARFs, which are the key regulators in vesicular membrane trafficking, the cellular function of class II ARFs remains unclear. In the present study, we generated class II ARF-deficient mice and found that ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice exhibited essential tremor (ET)-like behaviors. In vivo electrophysiological recordings revealed that ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice of both sexes exhibited abnormal brain activity when moving, raising the possibility of abnormal cerebellar excitability. Slice patch-clamp experiments demonstrated the reduced excitability of the cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) in ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice. Immunohistochemical and electrophysiological analyses revealed a severe and selective decrease of pore-forming voltage-dependent Na+ channel subunit Nav1.6, important for maintaining repetitive action potential firing, in the axon initial segment (AIS) of PCs. Importantly, this decrease in Nav1.6 protein localized in the AIS and the consequent tremors in ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice could be alleviated by the PC-specific expression of ARF5 using adeno-associated virus vectors. Together, our data demonstrate that the decreased expression of the class II ARF proteins in ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice, leading to a haploinsufficiency of ARF4 in the absence of ARF5, impairs the localization of Nav1.6 to the AIS and hence reduces the membrane excitability in PCs, resulting in the ET-like movement disorder. We suggest that class II ARFs function in localizing specific proteins, such as Nav1.6, to the AIS.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We found that decreasing the expression of class II ARF proteins, through the generation of ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice, impairs Nav1.6 distribution to the axon initial segment (AIS) of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs), thereby resulting in the impairment of action potential firing of PCs. The ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mutant mice exhibited movement-associated essential tremor (ET)-like behavior with pharmacological profiles similar to those in ET patients. The exogenous expression of ARF5 reduced the tremor phenotype and restored the localization of Nav1.6 immunoreactivity to the AIS in ARF4+/-/ARF5-/- mice. Thus, our results suggest that class II ARFs are involved in the localization of Nav1.6 to the AISs in cerebellar PCs and that the reduction of class II ARF activity leads to ET-like movement disorder.

Keywords: ARF; axon initial segment; essential tremor; sodium channel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / deficiency
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / genetics
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / physiology*
  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / therapeutic use
  • Genotype
  • Head Movements
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Movement Disorders / metabolism
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / deficiency
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Protein Transport
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism*
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Rotarod Performance Test
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tremor / etiology*
  • Tremor / metabolism
  • Tremor / physiopathology


  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Scn8a protein, mouse
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors
  • ARF4 protein, mouse
  • Arf5 protein, mouse