The olivocerebellar system is involved in the transmission of information to maintain sensory motor coordination. Gap junctions have been described in various types of neurons in this system, including the neurons in the inferior olive that provide the climbing fibers to Purkinje cells. While it is well established that Connexin36 is necessary for the formation of these neuronal gap junctions, it is not clear whether these electrical synapses can develop without Connexin45. Here we describe the development and spatiotemporal distribution of Connexin45 in relation to that of Connexin36 in the olivocerebellar system. During development Connexin45 is expressed in virtually all neurons of the inferior olive and cerebellar nuclei. During later postnatal development and adulthood there is a considerable overlap of expression of both connexins in subpopulations of all main olivary nuclei and cerebellar nuclei as well as in the stellate cells in the cerebellar cortex. Despite this prominent expression of Connexin45, ultrastructural analysis of neuronal gap junctions in null-mutants of Connexin45 showed that their formation appears normal in contrast to that in knockouts of Connexin36. These morphological data suggest that Connexin45 may play a modifying role in widely distributed, coupled neurons of the olivocerebellar system, but that it is not essential for the creation of its neuronal gap junctions.

Cerebellar cortex, Cerebellar nuclei, Connexin36, Development, Gap junctions, Inferior olive, Stellate cells,
The Journal of Comparative Neurology
Department of Neuroscience

van der Giessen, R.S, Maxeiner, S, French, P.J, Willecke, K, & de Zeeuw, C.I. (2006). Spatiotemporal distribution of Connexin45 in the olivocerebellar system. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 495(2), 173–184. doi:10.1002/cne.20873