Colocalization of GABA, glycine, and their receptors at synapses in the rat spinal cord

J Neurosci. 1996 Feb 1;16(3):974-82. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.16-03-00974.1996.


To determine whether GABA and glycine can act as cotransmitters at synapses in the rat spinal cord, we have compared the ultrastructural distribution of GABAA-receptor beta 3 subunit with that of the glycine receptor-associated protein gephyrin and combined this with postembedding detection of GABA and glycine. We also used a dual-immunofluorescence method to confirm that gephyrin was associated with the glycine-receptor alpha 1 subunit throughout the cord. GABAA beta 3-subunit immunoreactivity was restricted primarily to synapses, and at a majority of these synapses the presynaptic axon was GABA-immunoreactive. Many synapses showed both GABAA beta 3 and gephyrin immunoreactivity, and at most of these synapses GABA and glycine were enriched in the presynaptic axon. These results strongly support the idea that cotransmission by GABA and glycine occurs in the spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Glycine / analysis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA / analysis*
  • Receptors, Glycine / analysis*
  • Receptors, Presynaptic / analysis
  • Spinal Cord / chemistry*
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / chemistry*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Receptors, Presynaptic
  • gephyrin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine