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Calcium binding proteins, such as calretinin, are abundantly expressed in distinctive patterns in the central nervous system but their physiological function remains poorly understood. Calretinin is expressed in cerebellar granule cells which provide the major excitatory input to Purkinje cells through parallel fibers. Calretinin deficient mice exhibit dramatic alterations in motor coordination and in Purkinje cell firing recorded in vivo throught unknown mechanisms. In the present paper, we review the results obtained with the patch clamp recording techniques in acute slice preparation. This data allow us to investigate the effect of a null mutation of the calretinin gene on the intrinsic electroresponsiveness of cerebellar granule cells at a mature developmental stage. Calretinin deficient granule cells exhibit faster action potentials and generate repetitive spike discharge showing an enhanced frequency increase with injected currents. These alterations disappear when 0.15 mM of the exogenous fast calcium buffer BAPTA is infused in the cytosol to restore the calcium buffering capacity. Furthermore, we propose a mathematical model demonstrating that the observed alterations of granule cell excitability can be explained by a decreased cytosolic calcium buffering capacity dur to the absence of calretinin. We suggest that calcium binding proteins modulate intrinsic neuronal excitability and may therefore play a role in the information processing in the central nervous system.

Original publication




Journal article


Progress in Brain Research

Publication Date





321 - 328