Comparative Analysis of Cadherin Expression and Connectivity Patterns in the Cerebellar System of Ferret and Mouse

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The cerebellum shows remarkable variations in the relative size of its divisions among vertebrate species. In the present study, we compare the cerebella of two mammals (ferret and mouse) by mapping the expression of three cadherins (cadherin-8, protocadherin-7, and protocadherin-10) at similar postnatal stages. The three cadherins are expressed differentially in parasagittal stripes in the cerebellar cortex, in the portions of the deep cerebellar nuclei, in the divisions of the inferior olivary nucleus, and in the lateral vestibular nucleus. The expression profiles suggest that the cadherin-positive structures are interconnected. The expression patterns resemble each other in ferret and mouse, although some differences can be observed. The general resemblance indicates that cerebellar organization is based on a common set of embryonic divisions in the two species. Consequently, the large differences in cerebellar morphology between the two species are more likely caused by differential growth of these embryonic divisions than by differences in early embryonic patterning. Based on the cadherin expression patterns, a model of corticonuclear projection territories in ferret and mouse is proposed. In summary, our results indicate that the cerebellar systems of rodents and carnivores display a relatively large degree of similarity in their molecular and functional organization. J. Comp. Neurol. 511:736–752, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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