Three closely related proteins transport glutamate into synaptic vesicles for release by exocytosis. Complementary patterns of expression in glutamatergic terminals have been reported for VGLUT1 and VGLUT2. VGLUT3 shows expression by many cells not considered to be glutamatergic. Here we describe the changes in VGLUT expression that occur during development. VGLUT1 expression increases gradually after birth and eventually predominates over the other isoforms in telencephalic regions. Expressed at high levels shortly after birth, VGLUT2 declines with age in multiple regions, in the cerebellum by 14-fold. In contrast, Coexpression of the two isoforms occurs transiently during development as well as permanently in a restricted subset of glutamatergic terminals in the adult. VGLUT3 is transiently expressed at high levels by select neuronal populations, including terminals in the cerebellar nuclei, scattered neurons in the cortex, and progenitor-like cells, implicating exocytotic glutamate release in morphogenesis and development. VGLUT3 also colocalizes extensively during development with the neuronal vesicular monoamine transporter VMAT2, with the vesicular acetylcholine transporter VAChT, and with the vesicular gamma-aminobutyric acid transporter VGAT. Such coexpression occurs particularly at some specific developmental stages and is restricted to certain sets of cells. In skeletal muscle, VGLUT3 localizes to granular organelles in the axon terminal as well as in the muscle sarcoplasm. The results suggest novel mechanisms and roles for regulated transmitter release.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.