Mice carrying mutations of the gene encoding the ion pore of the P/Q calcium channel (Cacna1a) are an instance in which cerebellar dysfunction may be attributable to altered electrophysiology and thus provide an opportunity to study how neuronal intrinsic properties dictate signal processing in the ocular motor system. P/Q channel mutations can engender multiple effects at the single neuron, circuit, and behavioral levels; correlating physiological and behavioral abnormalities in multiple allelic strains will ultimately facilitate determining which alterations of physiology are responsible for specific behavioral aberrations. We used videooculography to quantify ocular motor behavior in tottering mutants aged 3 mo to 2 yr and compared their performance to data previously obtained in the allelic mutant rocker and C57BL/6 controls. Tottering mutants shared numerous abnormalities with rocker, including upward deviation of the eyes at rest, increased vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) phase lead at low stimulus frequencies, reduced VOR gain at high stimulus frequencies, reduced gain of the horizontal and vertical optokinetic reflex, reduced time constants of the neural integrator, and reduced plasticity of the VOR as assessed in a cross-axis training paradigm. Unlike rocker, young tottering mutants exhibited normal peak velocities of nystagmus fast phases, arguing against a role for neuromuscular transmission defects in the attenuation of compensatory eye movements. Tottering also differed by exhibiting directional asymmetries of the gains of optokinetic reflexes. The data suggest at least four pathophysiological mechanisms (two congenital and two acquired) are required to explain the ocular motor deficits in the two Cacna1a mutant strains
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