Postnatal development of the vesicular GABA transporter in rat cerebral cortex

Neuroscience. 2003;117(2):337-46. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00864-3.


Light and electron microscopic immunocytochemical techniques and Western blotting were used to investigate the postnatal development of the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT) in the rat somatic sensory cortex. VGAT immunoreactivity was low at birth, it increased gradually through the first and second weeks of life and achieved the adult pattern during the third week. At postnatal day (P)0-P5, VGAT immunoreactivity was associated exclusively to fibers and puncta. Electron microscopic studies performed at P5 showed that all identified synaptic contacts formed by VGAT-positive axonal swellings were of the symmetric type and that a substantial proportion of the boutons appeared not to have formed synapses. From P10 onward, labeled puncta were both scattered in the neuropil and in apposition to unstained cellular profiles; VGAT was also expressed in few GABAergic cell bodies. Western blottings at the same postnatal ages revealed a 55-kDa band whose intensity was weak at P0 (17% of adult), it increased constantly until P15 (P2: 35%; P5: 44%; P10: 68%; P15: 97%), and then leveled off. Overall, the present results show that during neocortical development the expression of VGAT slightly precedes the complete maturation of inhibitory synaptogenesis and suggest that it may contribute to the formation of neocortical GABAergic circuitry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Organic Anion Transporters*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synaptic Vesicles / chemistry
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Organic Anion Transporters