Cytoplasmic loop of β-adrenergic receptors: synaptic and intracellular localization and relation to catecholaminergic neurons in the nuclei of the solitary tracts

Chiye Aoki, Barbara A. Zemcik, Catherine D. Strader, Virginia M. Pickel

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Pharmacological studies suggest that β-adrenergic receptors (βAR) in the medial nuclei of the solitary tracts (m-NTS) facilitate presynaptic release of catecholamines and also function at postsynaptic sites. We have localized the antigenic sites for a monoclonal antibody against a peptide corresponding to amino acids 226-239 of βAR in the m-NTS of rat brain. By light microscopy, immunoperoxidase labeling for this antibody was detected in somata and proximal processes of many small cells that were distributed throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the m-NTS. Electron microscopy confirmed the cytoplasmic of βAR in perikarya and proximal dendrites of neurons. Immunoreactivity occurred as discrete patches associated with cytoplasmic surfaces of plasma membrane and with irregularly-shaped saccules with clear lumen in the immediate vicinity. Select regions of nuclear envelopes, mitochondrial membranes, and rough endoplasmic reticulum were also immunoreactive along their cytoplasmic surfaces. In contrast, the Golgi apparatus was labeled, but infrequently. Immunoreactivity was also detected at numerous post- and occasional presynaptic membrane specializations of select axodendritic junctions. Dual labeling for the βAR-antibody by the immunoperoxidase method and for a rabbit antiserum against the catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), by the immunoautoradiographic method within the same sections, further established the precise cellular relations between βAR and catecholaminergic neurons. Immunoreactivity for βAR was detected in numerous perikarya and proximal dendrites that did not show detectable levels of TH. However, a few cells were dually labeled for both antigens, as seen by both light and electron microscopy. The TH-labeled terminals formed synapses at junctions both with and without βAR-like immunoreactivity. These results from the single and dual labeling studies: (1) confirm biochemical predictions that amino acids 226-239 of βAR protein reside intracellularly; (2) provide the first ultrastructural evidence for βAR localization within both pre- and postsynaptic membrane specializations of a subset of catecholaminergic synapses; and (3) suggest select intracellular sites that may be involved with synthesis and/or internalization and degradation of the receptor protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-347
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 31 1989


  • Autonomic
  • Autoreceptor
  • Catecholamine
  • Immunoautoradiography
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Medial nucleus of the solitary tract
  • Membrane biogenesis
  • Synapse
  • β-Adrenergic receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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