The Journal of comparative neurology

Identification of cerebellin2 in chick and its preferential expression by subsets of developing sensory neurons and their targets in the dorsal horn.

PMID 20506477


The cerebellins are a family of four secreted proteins, two of which, Cbln1 and Cbln3, play an important role in the formation and maintenance of parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapses. We have identified the chicken homologue of Cbln2 and, through the use of in situ hybridization, shown that it is expressed by specific subsets of neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) and spinal cord starting shortly after those neurons are generated. In the developing spinal cord, Cbln2 is highly expressed by dI1, dI3, dI5, and dILB dorsal interneurons and to a lesser extent by dI2, dI4, dI6, and dILA dorsal interneurons, but not by ventral (v0-v3) interneurons. After the spinal cord has matured and neurons have migrated to their final destinations, Cbln2 is abundant in the dorsal horn. In the DRGs, Cbln2 is expressed by TrkB+ and TrkC+ sensory neurons, but not by TrkA+ sensory neurons. Interestingly, regions of the spinal cord where TrkB+ and TrkC+ afferents terminate (i.e., laminae II, III, IV, and VI) exhibit the highest levels of Cbln2 expression. Cbln2 is also expressed by preganglionic sympathetic neurons and their targets in the sympathetic chain ganglia. Thus, the results show that Cbln2 is frequently expressed by synaptically connected neuronal populations. This, in turn, raises the possibility that if Cbln2, like Cbln1, plays a role in the formation and maintenance of synapses, it may somehow mediate bi-directional communication between discrete populations of neurons and their appropriate neuronal targets.