Comparative Neuromorphology and Electrophysiology of Purkinje Cells in the Leopard Gecko, Mouse, and Chicken
Purkinje cells (PCs) are one of the largest neurons in mammals, and play a key role in coordinating motor control, sensory perception, and various higher cognitive functions. While PCs are widely recognized as having elaborate dendrite branching patterns, for most species, details of their neuromorphology and function are rarely quantified. Here, I investigate PC dendrite neuromorphology in three distantly-related species and the electrophysiological properties of PCs from the leopard gecko. Using Golgi-Cox staining, I quantified neuromorphology in three species: the leopard gecko, laboratory mouse, and domestic chicken. I determined that there are species-specific differences in both PC size and dendrite complexity. Next, I investigated the electrophysiological properties of PCs in the leopard gecko. Based on dendrite neuromorphology and electrophysiological properties, I found that geckos have at least two PC subtypes. Taken together, my findings reveal that both within and between species, PCs are heterogeneous in form and function.