In classic Marr-Albus-Ito models of cerebellar function, coactivation of the climbing fiber (CF) synapse, which provides massive, invariant excitation of Purkinje neurons (coding the unconditioned stimulus), together with a graded parallel fiber synaptic array (coding the conditioned stimulus) leads to long-term depression (LTD) of parallel fiber-Purkinje neuron synapses, underlying production of a conditioned response. Here, we show that the supposedly invariant CF synapse can also express LTD. Brief 5 Hz stimulation of the CF resulted in a sustained depression of CF EPSCs that did not spread to neighboring parallel fiber synapses. Like parallel fiber LTD, CF LTD required postsynaptic Ca2+ elevation, activation of group 1 mGluRs, and activation of PKC. CF LTD is potentially relevant for models of cerebellar motor control and learning and the developmental conversion from multiple to single CF innervation of Purkinje neurons.
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