Examination of perturbations in the adult cerebellar connectivity, that follow well-defined lesions produced by gene mutations in the mouse, reveals a few of the numerous and intricate cellular interactions taking place during synaptogenesis. In weaver and in the central ectopia of reeler, Purkinje cells form innumerable dendritic spines, despite the absence of parallel fibers. Only a small proportion of these spines are innervated, and their presynaptic partners are mossy fibers (heterologous synapses) originating from spinal cord, but not from pontine nuclei. Hence, the early phase of membrane recognition is based more on a hierarchical choice between a wide range of graded preferences, than on the complementarity of a narrow range of synaptic affinities. The comparative analysis of weaver, reeler, staggerer and hyperspiny Purkinje cell has allowed us to establish that the late phase of synapse stabilization or elimination, leading to the numerical matching of one climbing fiber per Purkinje cell, is not based on climbing fiber translocation. Conversely, this regression appears to be the result of a process of competition between climbing fibers and parallel fibers. Whatever the mechanisms of the competition are, the results obtained with the mutants suggest that activity of the forming cerebellar circuitry is involved in their regulation. Finally, a new mutation is reported, the nodding mouse, to illustrate the fact that the ultimate morphology of presynaptic boutons results from an interplay between intrinsically regulated factors (features of presynaptic organelles) and the morphogenetic influence of postsynaptic partners. This accounts for the size and shape of the boutons as well as for the class of synaptic junction. Furthermore, this morphogenetic influence is not restricted to early life but occurs whenever the originally established balance between pre- and postsynaptic elements is upset.

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