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The vesicular GABA transporter, VGAT, localizes to synaptic vesicles in sets of glycinergic as well as GABAergic neurons

The vesicular GABA transporter, VGAT, localizes to synaptic vesicles in sets of glycinergic as well as GABAergic neurons

Journal of Neuroscience 18(23): 9733-9750

A transporter thought to mediate accumulation of GABA into synaptic vesicles has recently been cloned (McIntire et al., 1997). This vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT), the first vesicular amino acid transporter to be molecularly identified, differs in structure from previously cloned vesicular neurotransmitter transporters and defines a novel gene family. Here we use antibodies specific for N- and C-terminal epitopes of VGAT to localize the protein in the rat CNS. VGAT is highly concentrated in the nerve endings of GABAergic neurons in the brain and spinal cord but also in glycinergic nerve endings. In contrast, hippocampal mossy fiber boutons, which although glutamatergic are known to contain GABA, lack VGAT immunoreactivity. Post-embedding immunogold quantification shows that the protein specifically associates with synaptic vesicles. Triple labeling for VGAT, GABA, and glycine in the lateral oliva superior revealed a higher expression of VGAT in nerve endings rich in GABA, with or without glycine, than in others rich in glycine only. Although the great majority of nerve terminals containing GABA or glycine are immunopositive for VGAT, subpopulations of nerve endings rich in GABA or glycine appear to lack the protein. Additional vesicular transporters or alternative modes of release may therefore contribute to the inhibitory neurotransmission mediated by these two amino acids.

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Accession: 011560126

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PMID: 9822734

DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.18-23-09733.1998

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