Inhibitory neurones of a motor pattern generator in Xenopus revealed by antibodies to glycine

Nature. 1986 Nov 20-26;324(6094):255-7. doi: 10.1038/324255a0.


Glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are inhibitory transmitters of major importance. Whereas neurones using GABA as the transmitter can be visualized by immunocytochemical methods for glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) or GABA, no comparable techniques have been available for the selective visualization of glycinergic neurones. We have now produced polyclonal antibodies which specifically recognize glycine in glutaraldehyde-fixed tissue. We used these antibodies to investigate the distribution of glycine in the simple central nervous system (CNS) of the Xenopus embryo, which contains an anatomically and physiologically defined class of reciprocal inhibitory interneurones, the commissural interneurones. These interneurones have an important role in the generation of the swimming motor pattern and are thought to be glycinergic. The glycine antibodies specifically stain these interneurones, revealing their distribution and number in the embryo CNS. This is the first demonstration of the selective localization of glycine-like immunoreactivity in a putative glycinergic class of neurone that has been characterized physiologically, pharmacologically and anatomically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Glycine / physiology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Xenopus
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Antibodies
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine