Molecular alterations in the cerebellum of the plasma membrane calcium ATPase 2 (PMCA2)-null mouse indicate abnormalities in Purkinje neurons

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Abstract

PMCA2, a major calcium pump, is expressed at particularly high levels in Purkinje neurons. Accordingly, PMCA2-null mice exhibit ataxia suggesting cerebellar pathology. It is not yet known how changes in PMCA2 expression or activity affect molecular pathways in Purkinje neurons. We now report that the levels of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1), which plays essential roles in motor coordination, synaptic plasticity, and associative learning, are reduced in the cerebellum of PMCA2-null mice as compared to wild type littermates. The levels of inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor type 1 (IP3R1), an effector downstream to mGluR1, which mediates intracellular calcium signaling, and the expression of Homer 1b/c and Homer 3, scaffold proteins that couple mGluR1 to IP3R1, are also reduced in somata and dendrites of some Purkinje cell subpopulations. In contrast, no alterations occur in the levels of mGluR1 and its downstream effectors in the hippocampus, indicating that the changes are region specific. The reduction in cerebellar mGluR1, IP3R1 and Homer 3 levels are neither due to a generic decrease in Purkinje proteins nor extensive dendritic loss as immunoreactivity to total and non-phosphorylated neurofilament H (NFH) is increased in Purkinje dendrites and microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2) staining reveals a dense dendritic network in the molecular layer of the PMCA2-null mouse cerebellum. PMCA2 coimmunoprecipitates with mGluR1, Homer 3 and IP3R1, suggesting that the calcium pump is a constituent of the mGluR1 signaling complex. Our results suggest that the decrease in the expression of mGluR1 and its downstream effectors and perturbations in the mGluR1 signaling complex in the absence of PMCA2 may cumulatively result in aberrant metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling in Purkinje neurons leading to cerebellar deficits in the PMCA2-null mouse.

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