To obtain insights into the expression of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) in the mouse, we have utilized mice in which the Escherichia coli lacZ gene is integrated into the neurotrophin-3 locus (NT-3(lacZneo), Fariñas et al.  Nature 369:658-661). In this mouse strain, beta-galactosidase production is under control of the NT-3 promoter in its normal chromosomal environment, and histochemical measurement of beta-galactosidase provides a simple, sensitive method to determine which cells express NT-3. Our data correlate well with previous in situ mRNA and immunocytochemical studies reporting the localization of NT-3. For example, in adult NT-3(lacZneo)/+ mice, beta-galactosidase is expressed in high amounts in limbic areas of the cortex (cingulate, retrosplenial, piriform, and entorhinal), in the visual cortex, in the hippocampal formation (dentate granule cells, CA2 cells, fasciola cinereum, induseum griseum, tenia tecta, presubiculum, and parasubiculum), and in the septum (septohippocampal nucleus and lateral dorsal septum). In contrast with other studies, our results suggest more extensive expression of NT-3 in adult and aged mouse brains with cortical expression apparent at 4.5 months. To further define the cell populations expressing NT-3 in adult mice, we have combined immunocytochemistry with histochemical staining and found that beta-galactosidase is coexpressed with a neuronal marker (NeuN) and with parvalbumin and neuropeptides, markers for GABAergic interneurons. Our studies of embryonic beta-galactosidase expression in NT-3(lacZneo)/+ mice suggest sites of NT-3 expression not previously described, including embryonic piriform cortical cells and dentate granule cell precursors.
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