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Keywords:

  • invertebrate;
  • decapod;
  • ganglion;
  • neuropil;
  • NR1 subunit;
  • Neohelice granulata

Abstract

N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are involved in learning and memory processes in vertebrates and invertebrates. In Neohelice granulata, NMDARs are involved in the storage of associative memories (see references in text). The aim of this work was to characterize this type of glutamate receptor in Neohelice and to describe its distribution in the central nervous system (CNS). As a first step, a detailed study of the CNS of N. granulata was performed at the neuropil level, with special focus on one of the main structures involved in this type of memory, the supraesophageal ganglion, called central brain. The characterization of the NMDAR was achieved by identifying the essential subunit of these receptors, the NR1-like subunit. The NR1-like signals were found via western blot and immunohistochemistry techniques in each of the major ganglia: the eyestalk ganglia, the central brain, and the thoracic ganglion. Western blots yielded two bands for the crab NR1-like subunit, at ∼88 and ∼84 kDa. This subunit is present in all the major ganglia, and shows a strong localization in synaptosomal membranes. NMDARs are distributed throughout the majority of each ganglion but show prominent signal intensity in some distinguishable neuropils and neurons. This is the first general description of the N. granulata nervous system as a whole and the first study of NMDARs in the CNS of decapods. The preferential localization of the receptor in some neuropils and neurons indicates the presence of possible new targets for memory processing and storage. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:2279–2297, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.