Expression and regulation of NMDA receptor subunit R1 and neuronal nitric oxide synthase in cortical neuronal cultures: correlation with cytochrome oxidase

J Neurocytol. 1999 Jul;28(7):525-39. doi: 10.1023/a:1007053204929.


Our previous studies showed a differential distribution of the glutamatergic terminals in cytochrome oxidase-rich and -poor regions of the visual cortex. The NMDA type of glutamate receptors have been proposed to be involved in the activation of nitric oxide synthase to produce nitric oxide, the neurotransmitter. In the present study, we hypothesized that the expressions of glutamate receptor, NMDA receptors (NMDAR1) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) were colocalized and were also correlated with that of cytochrome oxidase (CO) in a subset of neurons. We used primary cultures of postnatal rat visual cortical neurons as a model system, so that we could examine both the somatic and dendritic expressions of these neurochemicals in individual neurons. We found a difference in the sequence of developmental expressions of NMDAR1, nNOS, CO, and Na(+)/K(+) ATPase. Triple labeling showed that all nNOS-positive neurons were immunoreactive for NMDAR1, and a subpopulation of them had high CO activity. The expression of NMDAR1 was positively correlated with CO activity. This is consistent with our previous finding that CO activity is strongly governed by excitatory glutamatergic synapses. After 40 hours of depolarizing potassium chloride treatment, CO activity was increased, and NMDAR1and nNOS levels were up-regulated in parallel. One week of tetrodotoxin significantly decreased the expression of NMDAR1, nNOS, and CO activity. Our results demonstrate that NMDA receptors and nNOS do co-exist in a subset of neurons that have high CO activity and their expressions are under the control of neuronal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / analysis
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / analysis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / analysis
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / analysis
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*


  • NMDA receptor A1
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • Nos1 protein, rat
  • Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase