Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science, The Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Rm 129 BMSB, 745 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0J9, Canada. [Email]
Zebrin II/aldolase C expression in the normal cerebellum is restricted to a Purkinje cell subset and is the canonical marker for stripes and zones. This spatial restriction has been confirmed in over 30 species of mammals, birds, fish, etc. In a transgenic mouse model in which the Neurogenin 2 gene has been disrupted (Neurog2-/-), the cerebellum is smaller than normal and Purkinje cell dendrites are disordered, but the basic zone and stripe architecture is preserved. Here, we show that in the Neurog2-/- mouse, in addition to the normal Purkinje cell expression, zebrin II is also expressed in a population of cells with a morphology characteristic of microglia. This identity was confirmed by double immunohistochemistry for zebrin II and the microglial marker, Iba1. The expression of zebrin II in cerebellar microglia is not restricted by zone or stripe or lamina. A second zone and stripe marker, PLCβ4, does not show the same ectopic expression. When microglia are compared in control vs. Neurog2-/- mice, no difference is seen in apparent number or distribution, suggesting that the ectopic zebrin II immunoreactivity in Neurog2-/- cerebellum reflects an ectopic expression rather than the invasion of a new population of microglia from the periphery. This ectopic expression of zebrin II in microglia is unique as it is not seen in numerous other models of cerebellar disruption, such as in Acp2-/- mice and in human pontocerebellar hypoplasia. The upregulation of zebrin II in microglia is thus specific to the disruption of Neurog2 downstream pathways, rather than a generic response to a cerebellar disruption.