Global Knockdown of Retinoid-related Orphan Receptor α in Mature Purkinje Cells Reveals Aberrant Cerebellar Phenotypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Neuroscience. 2021 May 10:462:328-336. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.04.004. Epub 2020 Apr 8.


Retinoid-related orphan receptor α (RORα) is a transcription factor expressed in a variety of tissues throughout the body. Knockout of RORα leads to various impairments, including defects in cerebellar development, circadian rhythm, lipid metabolism, immune function, and bone development. Previous studies have shown significant reduction of RORα expression in Purkinje cells (PCs) of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) type 1 and type 3/MJD (Machado-Joseph disease) model mice. However, it remains unclear to what extent the RORα reduction in PCs is involved in the disease pathology. Here, RORα expression was downregulated specifically in mature mouse PCs by intravenous infusion of blood-brain barrier-permeable adeno-associated virus (AAV), expressing a microRNA against RORα (miR-RORα) under the control of the PC-specific L7-6 promoter. The systemic AAV infusion led to extensive transduction of PCs. The RORα knock-down caused degeneration of PCs including disruption of the PC monolayer alignment and dendrite atrophy. In behavioral experiments, mice expressing miR-RORα showed motor learning deficits, and later, overt cerebellar ataxia. Thus, RORα in mature PCs plays pivotal roles in maintenance of PC dendrites and the monolayer alignment, and consequently, motor learning and motor function. Decrease in RORα expression in PCs could be a primary etiology of the cerebellar symptoms in patients with SCA1 and SCA3/MJD.

Keywords: AAV-PHP.B; Purkinje cell; RORα; cerebellum; knock-down; spinocerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum
  • Dendrites
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenotype
  • Purkinje Cells*
  • Retinoids
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias* / genetics


  • Retinoids