CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) has a key role in higher-order chromatin architecture that is important for establishing and maintaining cell identity by controlling gene expression. In the mature cerebellum, CTCF is highly expressed in Purkinje cells (PCs) as compared with other cerebellar neurons. The cerebellum plays an important role in motor function by regulating PCs, which are the sole output neurons, and defects in PCs cause motor dysfunction. However, the role of CTCF in PCs has not yet been explored. Here we found that the absence of CTCF in mouse PCs led to progressive motor dysfunction and abnormal dendritic morphology in those cells, which included dendritic self-avoidance defects and a proximal shift in the climbing fibre innervation territory on PC dendrites. Furthermore, we found the peculiar lamellar structures known as “giant lamellar bodies” (GLBs), which have been reported in PCs of patients with Werdnig-Hoffman disease, 13q deletion syndrome, and Krabbe disease. GLBs are localized to PC dendrites and are assumed to be associated with neurodegeneration. They have been noted, however, only in case reports following autopsy, and reports of their existence have been very limited. Here we show that GLBs were reproducibly formed in PC dendrites of a mouse model in which CTCF was deleted. GLBs were not noted in PC dendrites at infancy but instead developed over time. In conjunction with GLB development in PC dendrites, the endoplasmic reticulum was almost absent around the nuclei, the mitochondria were markedly swollen and their cristae had decreased drastically, and almost all PCs eventually disappeared as severe motor deficits manifested. Our results revealed the important role of CTCF during normal development and in maintaining PCs and provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of GLB formation during neurodegenerative disease.
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