Abstract— The distribution of hexokinase (ATP: D-hexose 6-phosphotransferase, EC 220.127.116.11) in rat cerebellum, retina, hippocampus, choroid plexus and ependymal cells of the cerebral ventricles, and dorsal root ganglion has been determined, at the light microscopic level, by both immunofluorescence and a histochemical procedure using nitro blue tetrazolium. With the exception of an artifactual staining of the outer photoreceptor segments of retina when the histochemical procedure was used, both methods gave comparable results, from which the following conclusions are drawn:
- (a)The cytoplasm of neuronal cell bodies clearly contained hexokinase, although the relative levels varied markedly among different types of neurons; such variations have previously been detected by direct assay of hexokinase in dissected neuronal cell bodies (Kato & Lowry, 1973a).
- (b)Glial cells contained readily detectable levels of hexokinase: the immunofluorescence technique revealed spidery glial processes within the myelinated tracts; in other areas, glial cell cytoplasms were indistinguishable from surrounding neuropil, indicating comparable levels of hexokinase; the satellite glia of dorsal root ganglia actually contained higher levels than did adjacent large neurons. The present results, therefore, do not support previous suggestions that glia are characteristically low and neurons characteristically high in hexokinase content.
- (c)Hexokinase was distributed throughout neuropil areas, with a somewhat speckled appearance suggesting the existence of small localizations of relatively higher activity, the nature of which could not be determined at this level of resolution; the hexokinase level in neuropil was clearly higher than that of white fiber tracts, in agreement with previous direct biochemical measurements (Buellet al., 1958)
- (d)No detectable levels of hexokinase were found in cell nuclei.
- (e)Regions expected to be rich in nerve terminals (e.g. the cerebellar glomeruli, the plexiform layers of retina) showed relatively high hexokinase levels compared to the cytoplasm of adjacent neuronal perikarya, in agreement with previous subcellular fractionation experiments which indicated relatively high levels of hexokinase in nerve endings (Wilson, 1972). Considered along with the‘high affinity’glucose transport system in nerve endings (Diamond & Fishman, 1973), these results suggest nerve terminals are well adapted for the'efficient acquisition and introduction of glucose into metabolism.
- (f)In addition, high levels of hexokinase were observed in the inner photoreceptor segments of retina, and in the ependymal and choroid plexus cells of the ventricles.