Subcellular localization of patched and smoothened, the receptors for sonic hedgehog signaling, in the hippocampal neuron

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Abstract

Cumulative evidence suggests that, aside from patterning the embryonic neural tube, Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling plays important roles in the mature nervous system. In this study, we investigate the expression and localization of the Shh signaling receptors, Patched (Ptch) and Smoothened (Smo), in the hippocampal neurons of young and mature rats. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting analyses show that the expression of Ptch and Smo remains at a moderate level in young postnatal and adult brains. By using immunofluorescence light microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy, we examine the spatial distribution of Ptch and Smo within the hippocampal neurons. In young developing neurons, Ptch and Smo are present in the processes and are clustered at their growth cones. In mature neurons, Ptch and Smo are concentrated in dendrites, spines, and postsynaptic sites. Synaptic Ptch and Smo often co-exist with unusual structures—synaptic spinules and autophagosomes. Our results reveal the anatomical organization of the Shh receptors within both the young and the mature hippocampal neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:3684-3699, 2011. ©2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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