Cellular Distribution of Gangliosides in the Developing Mouse Cerebellum: Analysis Using the Staggerer Mutant

Thomas N. Seyfried, David J. Bernard, Robert K. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Abstract: The distribution of cerebellar gangliosides was studied in staggerer (sg/sg) mutant mice, where the majority of granule cells die after completing their migration across the molecular layer. In addition, the external granule cell layer in (sg/sg) mice persists longer than in normal mice. Moreover, in the sg/sg cerebellum, Purkinje cells are significantly reduced in number, and almost none have tertiary branchlet spines. The loss of Purkinje cells and granule cells in sg/sg mice is accompanied by an early‐onset reactive gliosis that continues through adulthood. By correlating changes in ganglioside composition with the well‐documented histological events of cerebellar development in normal and sg/sg mice, we obtained strong evidence for a nonrandom cellular distribution of gangliosides. The sharpest reduction in the GD1a content of sg/sg cerebellum occurred after 15 days of age, coincident with granule cell loss. GT1a, on the other hand, was significantly reduced from 15 through 150 days in the sg/sg mice. GD3 is a major ganglioside of the undifferentiated granule cell, but it becomes rapidly displaced by the more complex gangliosides with the onset of granule cell maturation. In the sg/sg mice, GD3 persisted at abnormally high levels from 15 to 28 days and then accumulated through adulthood. These findings, and those from other cerebellar mouse mutants, suggest that GD1a is enriched in granule cells and that GT1a is enriched in Purkinje cells. Our findings also suggest that GT1a is more concentrated in branchlet spines than in other regions of the Purkinje cell membrane. GT1b appears to be enriched in both granule cells and Purkinje cells, whereas GM1 appears to be enriched in myelin. Furthermore, the apparent persistence of the embryonic ganglioside GD3 in sg/sg mice results from an early‐onset reactive gliosis, together with a partial retardation in granule cell maturation. The accumulation of GD3 beyond 28 days reflects the continued accretion of GD3 in reactive glia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1152-1162
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebellum
  • Gangliosides
  • Gliosis
  • Granule cells
  • Purkinje cells
  • Staggerer mutant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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