• GABA;
  • immediate early genes;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • NMDA receptors


Basal expression of the protein products of the inducible immediate early genes (IEGs), c-Fos and Zif268, was investigated in five regions of the rat basal ganglia using immunohistochemistry. In particular, high basal levels of Zif268 but very low levels of c-Fos were seen in the caudate-putamen (CPu). Double immunostaining revealed that many of the constitutively expressed Zif268-positive neurons were GABAergic but very few were cholinergic or neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)-positive, and some of the Zif268-positive neurons were also immunopositive for a glutamate NMDA receptor subunit NR1 or NR2A. No regional difference between the medial and lateral parts of the CPu was observed in the cellular phenotypes of Zif268-positive neurons. Almost no basal levels of Zif268 were seen in the other four regions: the globus pallidus, entopeduncular nucleus, subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata. As in the CPu, negligible levels of c-Fos were seen in these four regions. Differential expression of these two IEGs may suggest gene-specific and region-specific functions of c-Fos and Zif268 in the basal ganglia. Constitutive expression of Zif268 existing mainly in the GABAergic neurons in the CPu may at least in part be maintained by glutamatergic afferents.