• ryanodine receptor;
  • calcium-release channel;
  • foot protein;
  • weakly electric fish;
  • Gymnotiformes


The ryanodine receptor, an integral membrane protein of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in muscle, embodies a high conductance channel permeable to calcium ions. Recent studies have identified ryanodine-binding proteins in avian and mammalian central nervous systems. These neuronal ryanodine receptors appear to function as Ca2− channels which may gate the release of Ca2+ from caffeine-sensitive intracellular pools in neurons.

In the present investigation, we employed monoclonal antibodies against ryanodine-binding proteins of avian muscle cells to the brain of weakly electric gymnotiform fish. Immunoprecipitation and Western blot analysis revealed two isoforms in the fish brain, with molecular weights comparable to those of avian and fish muscle ryanodine-binding proteins. By employing immunohistochemical techniques, we mapped these proteins in fish brain.

Ryanodine receptor-like immunoreactivity was found in nerve cell bodies as well as dendrites and axonal processes. The ryanodine-binding protein is distributed throughout the neuraxis in specific cell types of the gymnotiform brain. In the telencephalon, immunoreactive cells were found in the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb, in the supracommissural subdivision of the ventral telencephalon, and in the intermediate rostral subdivision of the ventral telencephalon. In the diencephalon, immunoreactive cells or fibers were observed in the nucleus prethalamicus and the habenula, within the nucleus at the base of the optic tract and the adjacent dorsal tegmental nucleus, the pretectal nuclei A and B, and the nucleus electrosensorius. In addition, immunopositive cells were seen in several nuclei of the hypothalamus, with the inferior and lateral subdivision of the nucleus recessus lateralis displaying the highest concentration of neurons. In the mesencephalon, the optic tectum contained the greatest number of immunopositive cells. In the rhombencephalon, labelling was seen in the nucleus of the lateral valvula, central gray, lateral tegmental nucleus, in boundary cells of the nucleus praeminentialis, efferent octavolateral nucleus, an area adjacent to the medial edge of the lateral reticular nucleus, nucleus medialis, and electrosensory lateral line lobe. As in avian brain, cerebellar Purkinje cells were positive for ryanodine-binding protein, although only subsets of Purkinje cells were labelled. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.