Protein Phosphatase 2B Dual Function Facilitates Synaptic Integrity and Motor Learning

J Neurosci. 2021 Jun 30;41(26):5579-5594. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1741-20.2021. Epub 2021 May 21.


Protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B) is critical for synaptic plasticity and learning, but the molecular mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here we identified different types of proteins that interact with PP2B, including various structural proteins of the postsynaptic densities (PSDs) of Purkinje cells (PCs) in mice. Deleting PP2B reduced expression of PSD proteins and the relative thickness of PSD at the parallel fiber to PC synapses, whereas reexpression of inactive PP2B partly restored the impaired distribution of nanoclusters of PSD proteins, together indicating a structural role of PP2B. In contrast, lateral mobility of surface glutamate receptors solely depended on PP2B phosphatase activity. Finally, the level of motor learning covaried with both the enzymatic and nonenzymatic functions of PP2B. Thus, PP2B controls synaptic function and learning both through its action as a phosphatase and as a structural protein that facilitates synapse integrity.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Phosphatases are generally considered to serve their critical role in learning and memory through their enzymatic operations. Here, we show that protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B) interacts with structural proteins at the synapses of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Differentially manipulating the enzymatic and structural domains of PP2B leads to different phenotypes in cerebellar learning. We propose that PP2B is crucial for cerebellar learning via two complementary actions, an enzymatic and a structural operation.

Keywords: Purkinje cells; cerebellar learning; protein phosphatase 2B.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcineurin / metabolism*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Post-Synaptic Density / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*


  • Calcineurin