The development of the central nervous system requires an appropriate micro-environment that is conditioned by a combination of various extracellular components. Most of the known signaling factors, such as neurotransmitters or neuropeptides, are soluble and diffuse into the extracellular matrix. However, other secreted molecules like proteoglycans or glycosaminoglycans anchor in the extracellular matrix to influence cerebral ontogenesis. As such, pleiotrophin (PTN), which binds the proteoglycans syndecan-3 (SDC3) and protein tyrosine phosphatase zeta (PTPζ), has been described as a pro-migratory and a pro-differentiating secreted cytokine on cortical neurons. In rat cerebellum, PTN is highly expressed during the first postnatal week, suggesting that this cytokine could participate to the development of the cerebellar cortex. According to this hypothesis, our spatio-temporal cartography of PTN, PTPζ and SDC3 indicated that, in mouse, the PTNergic system was present in the cerebellum at least from the first postnatal day (P0). Until P12, PTN was mainly expressed by granule cell precursors and located in the extracellular matrix, while SDC3 was expressed by Purkinje cells, Golgi cells and granule cell precursors, and PTPζ was present on Purkinje cells and Bergmann fibers. In vitro studies confirmed the presence of SDC3 on immature granule cells and demonstrated that PTN could stimulate directly their velocity in culture. In contrast, subarachnoidal injection of PTN in the cerebellum significantly reduced the rate of migration of granule cells, exacerbated their apoptosis and induced an atrophy of the Purkinje cell dendritic tree. Since differentiated granule cells did not express SDC3 or PTPζ, the PTN effect observed on migration and apoptosis may be indirectly mediated by Purkinje and/or Bergmann cells. From P21 to adulthood, the distribution of PTN, SDC3 and PTPζ changed and their expression dramatically decreased even if they were still detectable. PTN and SDC3 immunolabeling was restricted around Purkinje cell bodies and Golgi cells, whereas PTPζ was located around interneurons. These data suggested that, in the cerebellum of adult mice, PTN participates to the perineuronal nets that control neuronal plasticity. To conclude, the present work represents the first spatio-temporal characterization of the PTNergic system in the mouse cerebellum and indicates that PTN may contribute to cerebellum ontogenesis during the postnatal development as well as to neuronal plasticity at adulthood.Highlights
▸ The PTNergic system is expressed during the development of mouse cerebellum. ▸ PTN increases the tangential migration of cerebellar granule cells in vitro. ▸ PTN decreases the radial migration of cerebellar granule cells ex vivo. ▸ PTN induces an atrophy of the dendritic tree of Purkinje cells.