The distribution of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM kinase II) alpha and beta isoforms in the brainstem of adult rats was investigated using an immunohistochemical method with two monoclonal antibodies which specifically recognize the alpha and beta isoform, respectively. We found that these isoforms were differentially expressed by neurons in the substantia nigra, red nucleus, dorsal cochlear nucleus, pontine nuclei and inferior olivary nucleus. Neurons in the inferior olivary nucleus express the alpha isoform, but not the beta isoform. In contrast, neurons in the substantia nigra, red nucleus and pontine nuclei were immunostained with the beta antibody, but not with the alpha antibody. In the dorsal cochlear nucleus, neurons in layers I and II were alpha-immunopositive, whereas neurons in layers III and IV were beta-immunopositive. Therefore, the distribution of the CaM kinase II alpha-immunopositive neurons is completely different from that of CaM kinase II beta-immunopositive neurons. Next we examined the possible coexistence of CaM kinase II alpha isoform and glutamate or that of CaM kinase II beta isoform and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) in the single neuron by double immunofluorescence labelling using a pair of anti-alpha and anti-glutamate antibodies, or a pair of anti-beta and anti-GAD antibodies. The results indicated that neurons expressing anti-alpha immunoreactivity were also immunopositive against anti-glutamate antibody, and neurons expressing beta isoform were also immunopositive against anti-GAD antibody, suggesting that alpha-immunopositive neurons are classified as excitatory-type neurons, and on the contrary, beta-immunopositive neurons are classified as inhibitory-type neurons. In conclusion, the present study confirmed that alpha- and beta-isoforms of CaM kinase II are differentially expressed in the nuclei of the brainstem and have different roles.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.