Regional Regulation of Purkinje Cell Dendritic Spines by Integrins and Eph/Ephrins.

10 May 2018

Climbing fibres and parallel fibres compete for dendritic space on Purkinje cells in the cerebellum. Normally, climbing fibres populate the proximal dendrites, where they suppress the multiple small spines typical of parallel fibres, leading to their replacement by the few large spines that contact climbing fibres. Previous work has shown that ephrins acting via EphA4 are a signal for this change in spine type and density. We have used an in vitro culture model in which to investigate the ephrin effect on Purkinje cell dendritic spines and the role of integrins in these changes. We found that integrins α3, α5 and β4 are present in many of the dendritic spines of cultured Purkinje cells. pFAK, the main downstream signalling molecule from integrins, has a similar distribution, although the intenstity of pFAK staining and the percentage of pFAK+ spines was consistently higher in the proximal dendrites. Activating integrins with Mg2+ led to an increase in the intensity of pFAK staining and an increase in the proportion of pFAK+ spines in both the proximal and distal dendrites, but no change in spine length, density or morphology. Blocking integrin binding with an RGD-containing peptide led to a reduction in spine length, with more stubby spines on both proximal and distal dendrites. Treatment of the cultures with ephrinA3-Fc chimera suppressed dendritic spines specifically on the proximal dendrites and there was also a decrease of pFAK in spines on this domain. This effect was blocked by simultaneous activation of integrins with Mn2+. We conclude that Eph/ephrin signaling regulates proximal dendritic spines in Purkinje cells by inactivating integrin downstream signalling.