Aberrant cerebellar Purkinje cell activity as the cause of motor attacks in a mouse model of episodic ataxia type 2

Esra Tara, Ariel Vitenzon, Ellen Hess, Kamran Khodakhah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Many cerebellar-induced neurological disorders, such as ataxias and cerebellar-induced dystonias, are associated with abnormal Purkinje cell activity. In tottering mice, a well-established mouse model of episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2), cerebellar Purkinje cells are required for the initiation of motor attacks. How Purkinje cells contribute to the initiation of attacks is not known, and to date there are no reports on the activity of Purkinje cells during motor attacks in the tottering mice. Here, we show that tottering Purkinje cells exhibit high-frequency burst firing during attacks, reminiscent of other mouse models of cerebellar-induced motor dysfunction. We recorded the activity of Purkinje cells in awake head-restrained tottering mice at baseline, or during caffeine-induced attacks. During motor attacks, firing of Purkinje cells transformed to high-frequency burst firing. Interestingly, the extent to which the activity of Purkinje cells was erratic was correlated with the severity of the motor dysfunction. In support of a causal role for erratic activity in generating motor dysfunction, we found that direct infusion of the small conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channel activator NS309 into the cerebellum of tottering mice in the midst of an attack normalized the firing of Purkinje cells and aborted attacks. Conversely, we found that inducing high-frequency burst firing of Purkinje cells in wild-type animals is sufficient to produce severe motor signs. We report that erratic activity of wild-type Purkinje cells results in ataxia and dystonic postures. Moreover, this aberrant activity is the cause of motor attacks in the tottering mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdmm034181
JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018



  • Cerebellum
  • Episodic ataxia type 2
  • Purkinje cells
  • SK channels
  • Tottering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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