Cerebellar long-term depression (LTD) is a model system for neuronal information storage that has an absolute requirement for activation of protein kinase C (PKC). It has been claimed to underlie several forms of cerebellar motor learning. Previous studies using various knockout mice (mGluR1, GluRδ2, glial fibrillary acidic protein) have supported this claim; however, this work has suffered from the limitations that the knockout technique lacks anatomical specificity and that functional compensation can occur via similar gene family members. To overcome these limitations, a transgenic mouse (called L7-PKCI) has been produced in which the pseudosubstrate PKC inhibitor, PKC[19-31], was selectively expressed in Purkinje cells under the control of the pcp-2(L7) gene promoter. Cultured Purkinje cells prepared from heterozygous or homozygous L7-PKCI embryos showed a complete blockade of LTD induction. In addition, the compensatory eye movements of L7-PKCI mice were recorded during vestibular and visual stimulation. Whereas the absolute gain, phase, and latency values of the vestibulo-ocular reflex and optokinetic reflex of the L7-PKCI mice were normal, their ability to adapt their vestibulo-ocular reflex gain during visuo-vestibular training was absent. These data strongly support the hypothesis that activation of PKC in the Purkinje cell is necessary for cerebellar LTD induction, and that cerebellar LTD is required for a particular form of motor learning, adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex.
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