Immunolocalization of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter in larval and adult Drosophila neurons

Neurosci Lett. 2017 Mar 16:643:76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.02.012. Epub 2017 Feb 7.


Vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) function is essential for organismal survival, mediating the packaging of acetylcholine (ACh) for exocytotic release. However, its expression pattern in the Drosophila brain has not been fully elucidated. To investigate the localization of VAChT, we developed an antibody against the C terminal region of the protein and we show that this antibody recognizes a 65KDa protein corresponding to VAChT on an immunoblot in both Drosophila head homogenates and in Schneider 2 cells. Further, we report for the first time the expression of VAChT in the antennal lobe and ventral nerve cord of Drosophila larva; and we independently confirm the expression of the protein in mushroom bodies and optic lobes of adult Drosophila. Importantly, we show that VAChT co-localizes with a synaptic vesicle marker in vivo, confirming previous reports of the localization of VAChT to synaptic terminals. Together, these findings help establish the vesicular localization of VAChT in cholinergic neurons in Drosophila and present an important molecular tool with which to dissect the function of the transporter in vivo.

Keywords: Acetylcholine; Localization; Neurotransmitter; Synaptic vesicle; VAChT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Larva
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins
  • Acetylcholine