Glycine receptors and GABA receptor alpha 1 and gamma 2 subunits during the development of mouse hypoglossal nucleus

Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Dec;20(12):3286-300. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03785.x.


In the hypoglossal nucleus, GABA and glycine mediate inhibition at separate or mixed synapses containing glycine receptors (GlyRs) and/or GABA(A) receptors (GABA(A)Rs). The functional development of mixed inhibitory synapses depends on the brain area studied, but their relative proportion to total synapses generally decreases with time. We have determined the sequential process of inhibitory synapse maturation in the hypoglossal nucleus in vivo. Immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy were used for codetection of VIAAT, the common presynaptic vesicular transporter of glycine and GABA, GlyRs, GABA(A)R alpha1 and gamma2 subunits, and gephyrin, the scaffold protein implicated in the synaptic localization of inhibitory receptors. In E17 embryos, GlyRs were already clustered while GABA(A)R alpha1 and gamma2 subunit immunoreactivity (IR) displayed both diffuse and clustered patterns. Quantitative analysis at this stage revealed that the majority of GlyR clusters were apposed to VIAAT-IR accumulation and that 30% of them colocalized with gamma2GABA(A)R clusters. This proportion increased with age to 50% at P30. GlyR clusters that did not colocalize with gamma2GABA(A)R clusters were associated with GABA(A)R gamma2 diffuse IR. Interestingly, the percentage of GlyR clusters surrounded by GABA(A)R gamma2 diffuse IR decreased with age, while GlyR clusters colocalized with gamma2GABA(A)R clusters increased. The developmental coclustered pattern of gephyrin and GABA(A)R alpha1 and gamma2 subunits paralleled the coclustered pattern of GlyRs and GABA(A)R alpha1 and gamma2 subunits. Our results indicate that the proportion of GlyR-GABA(A)R coclusters increases until adulthood. A developmental sequence of the postsynaptic events is proposed in which diffuse extrasynaptic GABA(A)Rs accumulate at inhibitory synapses to form postsynaptic clusters, most of them being colocalized with GlyR clusters in the adult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / chemistry
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / metabolism*
  • Medulla Oblongata / chemistry
  • Medulla Oblongata / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Subunits / analysis
  • Protein Subunits / biosynthesis
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis
  • Receptors, GABA-A / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glycine / analysis
  • Receptors, Glycine / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism*


  • Gabra1 protein, mouse
  • Gabrg2 protein, mouse
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Glycine