Cbln1 belongs to the C1q and tumour necrosis factor superfamily, and plays crucial roles as a cerebellar granule cell-derived transneuronal regulator for synapse integrity and plasticity in Purkinje cells. Although Cbln2-Cbln4 are also expressed in the brain and could form heteromeric complexes with Cbln1, their precise expressions remain unclear. Here, we investigated gene expression of the Cbln family in developing and adult C57BL mouse brains by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Northern blot, and high-resolution in situ hybridization (ISH) analyses. In the adult brain, spatial patterns of mRNA expression were highly differential depending on Cbln subtypes. Notably, particularly high levels of Cbln mRNAs were expressed in some nuclei and neurons, whereas their postsynaptic targets often lacked or were low for any Cbln mRNAs, as seen for cerebellar granule cells/Purkinje cells, entorhinal cortex/hippocampus, intralaminar group of thalamic nuclei/caudate-putamen, and dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus/central nucleus of the inferior colliculus. In the developing brain, Cbln1, 2, and 4 mRNAs appeared as early as embryonic day 10-13, and exhibited transient up-regulation during the late embryonic and neonatal periods. For example, Cbln2 mRNA was expressed in the cortical plate of the developing neocortex, displaying a high rostromedial to low caudolateral gradient. In contrast, Cbln3 mRNA was selective to cerebellar granule cells throughout development, and its onset was as late as postnatal day 7-10. These results will provide a molecular-anatomical basis for future studies that characterize roles played by the Cbln family.
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