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J Comp Neurol. 1999 Jun 7;408(3):437-48.

Presynaptic cytomatrix protein bassoon is localized at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses of rat brain.

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Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology (IfN), Magdeburg, Germany.


Bassoon is a 420-kDa protein specifically localized at the active zone of presynaptic nerve terminals. It is thought to be involved in the structural organization of the neurotransmitter release site. We studied the distribution of Bassoon transcripts and protein in rat brain and assessed which types of presynaptic terminals contain the protein. As shown by in situ hybridization, Bassoon transcripts are widely distributed in the brain and occur primarily in excitatory neurons. In addition, examples of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurons expressing Bassoon are detected. At the light microscopic level, Bassoon immunoreactivity is found in synaptic neuropil regions throughout the brain, with the strongest expression in the hippocampus, the cerebellar cortex, and the olfactory bulb. Immunoelectron microscopy showed that Bassoon immunoreactivity is found in both asymmetric type 1 and symmetric type 2 synapses. Immunopositive asymmetric synapses include mossy fiber boutons and various spine and shaft synapses in the hippocampus and mossy fiber terminals and parallel fiber terminals in the cerebellum. Bassoon-containing symmetric synapses are observed, e.g., between basket and granule cells in the hippocampus, between Golgi cells and granule cells, and between basket cells and Purkinje cells in the cerebellum. Within synaptic terminals, Bassoon appears highly concentrated at sites opposite to postsynaptic densities. In cultured hippocampal neurons, Bassoon was found to colocalize with GABA(A) and glutamate (GluR1) receptors. These data indicate that Bassoon is a component of the presynaptic apparatus of both excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic synapses.

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