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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1997 Oct 20;103(1):9-20.

Calcium-binding proteins in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area during development: correlation with dopaminergic compartmentalization.

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  • 1Department of Morphology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.


The importance of calcium in neuronal function has been amply demonstrated in recent years. The discovery of a class of proteins within neurons which bind calcium, therefore, has proven to be a catalyst for the generation of theories and hypotheses regarding mechanisms of neurotoxicity in the CNS. In addition, the distribution of certain calcium-binding proteins changes during neural development, suggesting that they may play a role in organization or pattern generation. We have examined the ontogeny of three related calcium-binding proteins, calbindin-D28, parvalbumin and calretinin, with respect to the ventral and dorsal compartments or tiers of the dopaminergic population in the ventral midbrain. Single and dual-label immunocytochemistry was employed to map the distributions of calcium-binding proteins and tyrosine hydroxylase from E18 through adulthood. The results show that each of the three proteins exhibits a unique developmental sequence and compartment preference, with calbindin D28 clearly related to the later-developing dorsal tier, and parvalbumin and calretinin to the ventral tier of the dopaminergic ventral mesencephalon.

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