A Novel Cerebellar Commissure and Other Myelinated Axons in the Purkinje Cell Layer of a Pond Turtle (Trachemys Scripta Elegans).

Published Date:



United States



ISO Abbreviation:

J. Comp. Neurol.




Parallel fibers in the molecular layer of the vertebrate cerebellum mediate slow spike conduction in the transverse plane. In contrast, electrophysiological recordings have indicated that rapid spike conduction exists between the lateral regions of the cerebellar cortex of the red-ear pond turtle (Trachemys Scripta). The anatomical basis for this commissure is now examined in that species using neuronal tracing techniques. Fluorescently tagged dextrans and lipophilic carbocyanine dyes placed in one lateral edge of this non-foliated cortex are transported across the midline of living brains in vitro and along the axonal membranes of fixed tissues, respectively. Surprisingly, the labeled commissural axons traversed the cortex within the Purkinje cell layer, and not in the white matter of the molecular layer or the white matter below the granule cell layer. Unlike thin parallel fibers that exhibit characteristic varicosities, this commissure is composed of smooth axons of large diameter that also extend beyond the cerebellar cortex via the cerebellar peduncles. Double labeling with Myelin Basic Protein antibody demonstrated that these commissural axons are ensheathed with myelin. In contrast to this transverse pathway, an orthogonal myelinated tract was observed along the cerebellar midline. The connections of this transverse commissure with the lateral cerebellum, the vestibular nuclear complex and the cochlear vestibular ganglia indicate that this commissure plays a role in bilateral vestibular connectivity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.