Developmental expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium ion channel mutant mice, leaner and tottering.
Additional Document Info
Nitric oxide (NO) is a diffusible messenger molecule produced primarily by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the central nervous system. Both nNOS expression and NO production are regulated by calcium ions. Leaner and tottering mice carry a mutation in the pore forming subunit (alpha1A) of P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium ion channels, which decreases calcium ion current through the affected channels and disrupts calcium homeostasis. We have previously shown that nNOS expression is altered in adult leaner and tottering cerebella. In addition, leaner and tottering mice have been shown to have abnormal cerebellar granule cell-Purkinje cell synapses and leaner cerebellar granule cells undergo abnormal apoptosis during early postnatal development. Since NO production has been linked to several developmental roles including neuronal cell death, synaptogenesis and neuronal cell survival, our objective was to evaluate the expression of nNOS in developing leaner and tottering cerebella. Our results show that nNOS is differentially expressed in leaner and tottering cerebella compared to wild type cerebella and compared to each other. In whole cerebella, Western blotting revealed a significant increase in nNOS expression at postnatal day 12 in tottering but not leaner or wild type cerebella. At the cellular level the NADPH-diaphorase marker for nNOS revealed a significant increase in nNOS expression in basket cell interneurons in both mutant mice. nNOS expression in granule cells in the internal granule cell layer in tottering mice was increased at P12, while granule cells of leaner mice exhibited decreased nNOS expression at P20. The changes in nNOS expression at P12 did not correlate with a change in overall NO production, but rather maintained wild type NO concentrations. These findings suggest that changes in nNOS expression in the leaner and tottering cerebella are compensatory in nature with NO most likely functioning as a calcium-regulated neuroprotective/neurotrophic factor in postnatal cerebellar development.