Localization of nAChR subunit mRNAs in the brain of Macaca mulatta

Eur J Neurosci. 2000 Oct;12(10):3664-74. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2000.00262.x.


We present here a systematic mapping of nAChR subunit mRNAs in Macaca mulatta brain. A fragment, from the transmembrane segments MIII to MIV of Macaca neuronal nAChR subunits was cloned, and shown to exhibit high identity (around 95%) to the corresponding human subunits. Then, specific oligodeoxynucleotides were synthesized for in situ hybridization experiments. Both alpha4 and beta2 mRNA signals were widely distributed in the brain, being stronger in the thalamus and in the dopaminergic cells of the mesencephalon. Most brain nuclei displayed both alpha4 and beta2 signals with the exception of some basal ganglia regions and the reticular thalamic nucleus which were devoid of alpha4 signal. alpha6 and beta3 mRNA signals were selectively concentrated in the substantia nigra and the medial habenula. The strongest signals for alpha3 or beta4 mRNAs were found in the epithalamus (medial habenula and pineal gland), whereas there were no specific alpha3 or beta4 signals in mesencephalic dopaminergic nuclei. alpha5 and alpha7 mRNA signals were found in several brain areas, including cerebral cortex, thalamus and substantia nigra, although at a lower level than alpha4 and beta2. The distribution of alpha3, alpha4, alpha5, alpha6, alpha7, beta2, beta3 and beta4 subunit mRNAs in the monkey is substantially similar to that observed in rodent brain. Surprisingly, alpha2 mRNA signal was largely distributed in the Macaca brain, at levels comparable with those of alpha4 and beta2. This observation represents the main difference between rodent and Macaca subunit mRNA distribution and suggests that, besides alpha4beta2*, alpha2beta2* nAChRs constitute a main nAChR isoform in primate brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca mulatta / genetics*
  • Macaca mulatta / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Nicotinic