Localization of ataxin-2 within the cerebellar cortex of the rat

Francesca Romana Fusco, Maria Teresa Viscomi, Giorgio Bernardi, Marco Molinari

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Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 is caused by a polyglutamine stretch in the protein ataxin-2 that is due to an expansion of a CAG repeat in the spinocerebellar ataxia-2 gene. The function of wild-type ataxin-2 has not been clarified. A widespread distribution of this protein throughout the brain has been reported. We examined the expression of ataxin-2 in cortical cerebellar cells of the adult rat. We performed a single label immunohistochemical study of ataxin-2 and a single label immunofluorescence study of ataxin-2 and zebrin on adjacent sections, to compare the distribution of the observed parasagittal band pattern. We also performed a double label immunofluorescence study of ataxin-2 and one of each parvalbumin, calbindin, and calretinin. Single label studies revealed that between 50% and 70% of the Purkinje cells express ataxin-2. The abundance of ataxin-2 was different between hemisphere and vermis, with a clear prevalence for the former. Furthermore, the distribution of ataxin-2-positive Purkinje cells showed a peculiar alternating parasagittal band pattern. Among the other cortical cerebellar cells only basket and granule cells showed ataxin-2 staining. Our dual label studies showed that about 50% of calbindin and more than 70% of parvalbumin-immunoreactive Purkinje cells were also labeled for ataxin-2. The uneven distribution of ataxin-2 expression in the Purkinje cell layer does not support the hypothesized link between ataxin-2 content and cell vulnerability. The differences in ataxin-2 expression among the cell types of cerebellar cortex, on the other hand, suggest a possible correlation between ataxin-2 content and cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-347
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2001


  • Calcium binding proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Purkinje cells
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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