Distribution and developmental changes in metabotropic glutamate receptor messenger RNA expression in the rat lumbar spinal cord

Achim Berthele, Sarah J. Boxall, Agnes Urban, Johanna M.H. Anneser, Walter Zieglgänsberger, Laszlo Urban, Thomas R. Tölle

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Using in situ hybridisation, the regional distribution of primary transcripts and splice variants of all metabotropic glutamate receptor subtypes (mGluR) currently known to be expressed in the spinal cord have been studied in the lumbar enlargement of the rat spinal cord. In adult animals, the messenger RNA of the mGluR subtypes 1, 5, 3, 4 and 7 were differentially expressed. The transcripts of mGluR1 and 5 were most abundant with mGluR5 messenger RNA being concentrated in the superficial dorsal horn. In contrast, the mGluR2 transcript was not detectable with the sensitivity of the method. Secondly, age related changes (postnatal days 1, 7, 12, 21) in the postnatal expression of mGluR1-5 and 7 transcripts have been investigated. mGluR1 and 7 messenger RNA showed a general decrease in spinal expression from postnatal day 1 to day 21. Quantitative densitometry showed high mGluR3 and 5 messenger RNA levels especially in the superficial dorsal horn at birth, however these levels decreased with age. In addition to changes in density, the regional distribution of mGluR3 messenger RNA was altered with postnatal development. Up to postnatal day 12, mGluR3 messenger RNA expression was almost exclusively restricted to the spinal grey matter, but with postnatal day 21 a strong additional expression in the white matter occurred. Distribution of mGluR4 messenger RNA showed little change in the dorsal horn, however motoneuronal expression emerged during development. These changes may suggest different roles for mGluRs in the maturation of spinal transmission of the rat nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jan 1999


  • In situ hybridisation
  • Metabotropic glutamate receptor
  • Postnatal mRNA expression
  • Rat
  • Spinal cord


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