Ultrastructural localization of cellular prion protein (PrPc) in synaptic boutons of normal hamster hippocampus

C R Acad Sci III. 1995 Mar;318(3):339-44.


The cellular prion protein (PrPc) is a membrane sialoglycoprotein synthesized in the central nervous system and extraneural tissues. Its post-translational modification produces an accumulation of abnormal isoform PrPsc found in brains of transmissible neurodegenerative disorders in animals (scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and humans (Kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome). One major unanswered question relative to PrPc concerns its physiological role in brain neurons, depending largely on the limited knowledge of its subcellular localization. Using a highly-sensitive immunogold electron microscopy technique, we reported that in the hamster dentate gyrus, the synaptic boutons constituted the submicroscopic site where PrPc was observed. This detection was obtained with 2 highly-specific polyclonal antibodies for prion protein. PrPc localization was assigned, both on structural basis and on its co-localization with synaptophysin. The presence of PrPc in synaptic terminals should provide additional informations on its possible role in neuronal transmission and on the implication of synapses in the pathogenesis of spongiform encephalopathies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Cricetinae
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Presynaptic Terminals / chemistry*
  • Prions / analysis*
  • Synaptophysin / immunology


  • Antibodies
  • Prions
  • Synaptophysin