CaV3.1 T-type channels are abundant at the cerebellar synapse between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells where they contribute to synaptic depolarization. So far, no specific physiological function has been attributed to these channels neither as charge carriers nor more specifically as Ca 2+ carriers. Here we analyze their incidence on synaptic plasticity, motor behavior, and cerebellar motor learning, comparing WT animals and mice where T-type channel function has been abolished either by gene deletion or by acute pharmacological blockade. At the cellular level, we show that Ca V3.1 channels are required for long-term potentiation at parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses. Moreover, basal simple spike discharge of the Purkinje cell in KO mice is modified. Acute or chronic T-type current blockade results in impaired motor performance in particular when a good body balance is required. Because motor behavior integrates reflexes and past memories of learned behavior, this suggests impaired learning. Indeed, subjecting the KO mice to a vestibulo-ocular reflex phase reversal test reveals impaired cerebellum-dependent motor learning. These data identify a role of low-voltage activated calcium channels in synaptic plasticity and establish a role for CaV3.1 channels in cerebellar learning.

dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1311686110, hdl.handle.net/1765/64060
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Department of Neuroscience

Ly, R, Bouvier, N.M, Schonewille, M, Arabo, A, Rondi-Reig, L, Léna, C, … Feltz, A. (2013). T-type channel blockade impairs long-term potentiation at the parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapse and cerebellar learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(50), 20302–20307. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311686110