© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) constitute the most abundant neuronal population in the mammalian brain. Their postnatal generation and the feasibility to induce their apoptotic death in vitro make them an excellent model to study the effect of several neurotransmitters and neurotrophins. Here, we first review which factors are involved in the generation and proliferation of CGNs in the external granule layer (EGL) and in the regulation of their differentiation and migration to internal granule layer (IGL). Special attention was given to the role of several neurotrophins and the NMDA subtype of glutamate receptor. Then, using the paradigm of potassium deprivation in cultured CGNs, we address several extracellular factors that promote the survival of CGNs, with particular emphasis on the cellular mechanisms. The role of specific protein kinases leading to the regulation of transcription factors and recent data involving the small G protein family is also discussed. Finally, the participation of some members of Bcl-2 family and the inhibition of mitochondria-related apoptotic pathway is also considered. Altogether, these studies evidence that CGNs are a key model to understand the development and the survival of neuronal populations.
- Cerebellar granule neurons
- Survival pathways