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Keywords:

  • neurogastroenterology;
  • TRP channels;
  • gastrointestinal tract;
  • myenteric plexus;
  • submucosal plexus

Abstract

The canonical transient receptor potential (TRPC) family of ion channels is implicated in many neuronal processes including calcium homeostasis, membrane excitability, synaptic transmission, and axon guidance. TRPC channels are postulated to be important in the functional neurobiology of the enteric nervous system (ENS); nevertheless, details for expression in the ENS are lacking. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry were used to study the expression and localization of TRPC channels. We found mRNA transcripts, protein on Western blots, and immunoreactivity (IR) for TRPC1/3/4/6 expressed in the small intestinal ENS of adult guinea pigs. TRPC1/3/4/6-IR was localized to distinct subpopulations of enteric neurons and was differentially distributed between the myenteric and submucosal divisions of the ENS. TRPC1-IR was widely distributed and localized to neurons with cholinergic, calretinin, and nitrergic neuronal immunochemical codes in the myenteric plexus. It was localized to both cholinergic and noncholinergic secretomotor neurons in the submucosal plexus. TRPC3-IR was found only in the submucosal plexus and was expressed exclusively by neuropeptide Y-IR neurons. TRPC4/6-IR was expressed in only a small population of myenteric neurons, but was abundantly expressed in the submucosal plexus. TRPC4/6-IR was coexpressed with both cholinergic and nitrergic neurochemical codes in the myenteric plexus. In the submucosal plexus, TRPC4/6-IR was expressed exclusively in noncholinergic secretomotor neurons. No TRPC1/3/4/6-IR was found in calbindin-IR neurons. TRPC3/4/6-IR was widely expressed along varicose nerve fibers and colocalized with synaptophysin-IR at putative neurotransmitter release sites. Our results suggest important roles for TRPC channels in ENS physiology and neuronal regulation of gut function. J. Comp. Neurol. 511:847–862, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.