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Neuroscience. 2000;101(2):441-9.

Endothelin-converting enzymes and endothelin receptor B messenger RNAs are expressed in different neural cell species and these messenger RNAs are coordinately induced in neurons and astrocytes respectively following nerve injury.

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Department of Anatomy, Asahikawa Medical College, Midorigaoka-Higashi, Hokkaido 078-8510, Asahikawa, Japan.


There is some evidence that endothelins may be a signal mediator between neuronal and glial cells, at least in some regions of the brain. To evaluate this possibility, the localization of messenger RNAs for endothelin-converting enzymes and endothelin receptor B in the rat brain were examined using in situ hybridization histochemistry. The messenger RNAs for endothelin-converting enzyme-1 and endothelin-converting enzyme-2 were expressed mainly in neurons located in various brain regions, whereas the messenger RNA for endothelin receptor B was mainly localized in the astrocytes located throughout the brainstem, Bergmann glia, choroid plexus and ependymal cells. The localization patterns of endothelin-converting enzyme and endothelin receptor B messenger RNAs were strikingly different. For instance, in the cerebellum, endothelin-converting enzyme-1 messenger RNA was localized in Purkinje cells, and endothelin-converting enzyme-2 mRNA was expressed in Purkinje cells and granule cells. On the other hand, endothelin receptor B messenger RNA was expressed in Bergmann glia and the astrocytes located in the granule cell layer. This suggests that final cleavages of big endothelins are performed on neuronal cells, and the major target of the processed endothelins could be astrocytes, which express endothelin receptor B most abundantly in the brain. Since evidence that endothelin is implicated in brain injury has also accumulated, we examined whether the expressions of endothelin-converting enzymes and endothelin receptor B are regulated by nerve injury. Following hypoglossal nerve injury, expression of messenger RNA for endothelin-converting enzymes-1 and -2 and endothelin receptor B was enhanced in the injured motor neurons and astrocytes respectively. The up-regulation of these messenger RNAs was also confirmed by a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction based strategyThese results lead us to suggest that endothelin can be an inducible intercellular mediator between injured neurons and astrocytes in response to nerve injury.

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