We have catalogued the progressive appearance of putative nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-containing neurons in the developing central nervous system (CNS) of Xenopus laevis. Xenopus embryos and larvae were processed in wholemount and in cross section using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase (NADPH-d) histochemistry as a marker for NOS within the CNS. The temporal sequence of NADPH-d reactivity identified discrete groups and subgroups of neurons in the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain on the basis of their morphology, location, and order of appearance during development. A proportion of these groups of neurons appeared to be important in sensory processing and motor control. Staining also appeared at specific stages in the spinal cord, the retina, and the skin. After the appearance of labelling, NADPH-d reactivity continued in each of the cell groups throughout the stages examined. We found no evidence for staining that subsequently disappeared at later stages in any cell group, indicating a persistent rather than transient role for NO in the Xenopus tadpole CNS. These results are discussed in light of recent findings on possible roles for NADPH-d-positive cell groups within the developing motor circuitry.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.