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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 8;106(36):15454-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0813216106. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Unexpected expression of alpha- and beta-globin in mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and glial cells.

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  • 1Sector of Neurobiology, International School for Advanced Studies, The Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Foundation Laboratory, and Consorzio per il Centro di Biomedicina Molecolare, AREA Science Park, Basovizza, 34012 Trieste, Italy.

Abstract

The mesencephalic dopaminergic (mDA) cell system is composed of two major groups of projecting cells in the substantia nigra (SN) (A9 neurons) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA) (A10 cells). A9 neurons form the nigrostriatal pathway and are involved in regulating voluntary movements and postural reflexes. Their selective degeneration leads to Parkinson's disease. Here, we report that gene expression analysis of A9 dopaminergic neurons (DA) identifies transcripts for alpha- and beta-chains of hemoglobin (Hb). Globin immunoreactivity decorates the majority of A9 DA, a subpopulation of cortical and hippocampal astrocytes and mature oligodendrocytes. This pattern of expression was confirmed in different mouse strains and in rat and human. We show that Hb is expressed in the SN of human postmortem brain. By microarray analysis of dopaminergic cell lines overexpressing alpha- and beta-globin chains, changes in genes involved in O(2) homeostasis and oxidative phopshorylation were observed, linking Hb expression to mitochondrial function. Our data suggest that the most famed oxygen-carrying globin is not exclusively restricted to the blood, but it may play a role in the normal physiology of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases.

PMID:
19717439
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2732704
Free PMC Article
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