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Keywords:

  • glycine receptor;
  • immunocytochemistry;
  • neural stem;
  • precursor cells;
  • rat striatum;
  • RT-PCR;
  • whole-cell patch-clamp

Abstract

Multipotent neural stem and progenitor cells (NS/PCs) are well-established cell subpopulations occurring in the developing, and also in the mature mammalian nervous systems. Trophic and transcription factors are currently the main signals known to influence the development and the commitment of NS/PCs and their progeny. However, recent studies suggest that neurotransmitters could also contribute to neural development. In that respect, rodent-cultured embryonic NS/PCs have been reported to express functional neurotransmitter receptors. No similar investigation has, however, been made in postnatal and/or in adult rodent brain stem cells. In this study, using RT-PCR and immunocytochemical methods, we show that α1-, α2- and β-subunit mRNAs and α-subunit proteins of the glycine ionotropic receptor are expressed by 80.5 ± 0.9% of postnatal rat striatum-derived, nestin-positive cells within cultured neurospheres. Whole-cell patch-clamp experiments further demonstrated that glycine triggers in 33.5% of these cells currents that can be reversibly blocked by strychnine and picrotoxin. This demonstrates that NS/PCs express functional glycine receptors, the consequence(s) of their activation remaining unknown.