Principles of branch dynamics governing shape characteristics of cerebellar Purkinje cell dendrites

Kazuto Fujishima, Ryota Horie, Atsushi Mochizuki, Mineko Kengaku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Neurons develop dendritic arbors in cell type-specific patterns. Using growing Purkinje cells in culture as a model, we performed a long-term time-lapse observation of dendrite branch dynamics to understand the rules that govern the characteristic space-filling dendrites. We found that dendrite architecture was sculpted by a combination of reproducible dynamic processes, including constant tip elongation, stochastic terminal branching, and retraction triggered by contacts between growing dendrites. Inhibition of protein kinase C/protein kinase D signaling prevented branch retraction and significantly altered the characteristic morphology of long proximal segments. A computer simulation of dendrite branch dynamics using simple parameters from experimental measurements reproduced the time-dependent changes in the dendrite configuration in live Purkinje cells. Furthermore, perturbation analysis to parameters in silico validated the important contribution of dendritic retraction in the formation of the characteristic morphology. We present an approach using live imaging and computer simulations to clarify the fundamental mechanisms of dendrite patterning in the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3442-3455
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer simulation
  • Mouse
  • Purkinje cell
  • Time-lapse imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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