Neuronal-glial relationships play a critical role in the maintenance of central nervous system architecture and neuronal specification. A deeper understanding of these relationships can elucidate cellular cross-talk capable of sustaining proper development of neural tissues. In the cerebellum, cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs) proliferate in response to Purkinje neuron-derived Sonic hedgehog (Shh) before ultimately exiting the cell cycle and migrating radially along Bergmann glial fibers. However, the function of Bergmann glia in CGNP proliferation remains not well defined. Interestingly, the Hh pathway is also activated in Bergmann glia, but the role of Shh signaling in these cells is unknown. In this study, we show that specific ablation of Shh signaling using the tamoxifen-inducible TNC line to eliminate Shh pathway activator Smoothened in Bergmann glia is sufficient to cause severe cerebellar hypoplasia and a significant reduction in CGNP proliferation. TNC; Smo (Smo) mice demonstrate an obvious reduction in cerebellar size within two days of ablation of Shh signaling. Mutant cerebella have severely reduced proliferation and increased differentiation of CGNPs due to a significant decrease in Shh activity and concomitant activation of Wnt signaling in Smo CGNPs, suggesting that this pathway is involved in cross-talk with the Shh pathway in regulating CGNP proliferation. In addition, Purkinje cells are ectopically located, their dendrites stunted, and the Bergmann glial network disorganized. Collectively, these data demonstrate a previously unappreciated role for Bergmann glial Shh signaling activity in the proliferation of CGNPs and proper maintenance of cerebellar architecture.
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