Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha3 subunit protein in rat brain and sympathetic ganglion measured using a subunit-specific antibody: regional and ontogenic expression

J Neurochem. 2001 Apr;77(1):336-46. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2001.t01-1-00259.x.


A synthetic peptide corresponding to the C-terminus of the alpha 3 subunit of the rat neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) was used to generate a rabbit polyclonal alpha 3 antibody. The specificity of this antibody was characterized by immunoblotting, immunohistochemical and immunoprecipitation techniques. Using this antibody, the relative densities of the alpha 3 subunit were quantitatively determined in different brain regions and in superior cervical ganglion (SCG). Among these regions, SCG, interpeduncular nucleus (IPN) and pineal gland showed the highest levels of alpha 3 protein expression. Habenula and superior colliculi had intermediate levels of expression. Low levels were found in cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. The ontogenic profile of the alpha 3 subunit in the SCG was also determined. The alpha 3 protein level is low at postnatal day (P 1), but increases rapidly during the first seven postnatal days. This level then plateaus and remains stable through postnatal day 35. These findings suggest that neuronal nAChRs containing the alpha 3 subunit participate in important roles in specific regions of the rat brain and the SCG.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity / immunology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Habenula / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pineal Gland / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / analysis
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / immunology
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Superior Cervical Ganglion / cytology
  • Superior Cervical Ganglion / metabolism*
  • Superior Colliculi / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • nicotinic receptor alpha3beta4
  • nicotinic receptor subunit alpha3