Synaptogenesis and Synapse Elimination

  • Masanobu Kano
  • Masahiko Watanabe


Formation of excess synaptic connections at perinatal stage and subsequent elimination of redundant synapses and strengthening of the surviving ones are crucial steps for functional neural circuit formation in developing nervous system. Shortly after birth, excitatory synapses are formed on the somata of Purkinje cells (PCs) from climbing fibers (CFs) that originate from neurons in the inferior olive of the contralateral medulla oblongata. At this developmental stage, each PC is innervated by multiple (around five) CFs with equal strengths. Subsequently, a single CF is selectively strengthened relative to other CFs during the first postnatal week. Then, around postnatal day 9 (P9), only the strongest CF (“winner” CF) starts to extend its innervation to PC dendrites. On the other hand, synapses of the weaker CFs (“loser” CFs) remain on the soma and the most proximal portion of the dendrite, and they are eliminated progressively during the second and the third postnatal weeks. From P6 to P11, the elimination proceeds independently of the formation of the synapses on PC dendrites from parallel fibers (PFs), the other excitatory inputs to PCs. From P12 and thereafter, the elimination of weaker CFs requires normal PF-PC synapse formation and is presumably dependent on the PF synaptic inputs that activate type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1) and its downstream signaling in PCs. Most PCs become mono-innervated by single CFs in the third postnatal week. This chapter integrates the current knowledge of synaptogenesis and subsequent synapse elimination at CF to PC connections during postnatal cerebellar development.


Climbing Fiber Postnatal Development Distal Dendrite Dendritic Compartment Synapse Elimination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work has been supported in part by the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences (Development of Biomarker Candidates for Social Behavior), Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 21220006 (M.K.) and 19100005 (M.W.), and the Global COE Program (Integrative Life Science Based on the Study of Biosignaling Mechanisms) from MEXT, Japan.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurophysiologyGraduate School of Medicine, The University of TokyoBunkyo-kuJapan
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyHokkaido University Graduate School of MedicineSapporoJapan

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