Serine racemase is predominantly localized in neurons in mouse brain

J Comp Neurol. 2008 Oct 20;510(6):641-54. doi: 10.1002/cne.21822.


D-Serine is the endogenous ligand for the glycine binding site of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor (GluR) channel and is involved in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, neural network formation, and neurodegenerative disorders. D-Serine is synthesized from L-serine by serine racemase (SR), which was first reported to be localized in astrocytes. However, recently, SR mRNA and its protein have been detected in neurons. In this study, we examined the SR distribution in the brain during postnatal development and in cultured cells by using novel SR knockout mice as negative controls. We found that SR is predominantly localized in pyramidal neurons in the cerebral cortex and hippocampal CA1 region. Double immunofluorescence staining revealed that SR signals colocalized with those of the neuron-specific nuclear protein, but not with the astrocytic markers glial fibrillary acid protein and 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase. In the striatum, we observed SR expression in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic medium-spiny neurons. Furthermore, in the adult cerebellum, we detected weak but significant SR signals in GABAergic Purkinje cells. From these findings, we conclude that SR is expressed predominantly in many types of neuron in the brain and plays a key role in the regulation of brain functions under physiological and pathological conditions via the production of the neuromodulator D-serine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Racemases and Epimerases / genetics
  • Racemases and Epimerases / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism


  • Serine
  • Racemases and Epimerases
  • serine racemase