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Brain Res. 2001 May 11;900(2):348-54.

Distribution and immunohistochemical characterization of torsinA immunoreactivity in rat brain.

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Department of Neurology (127), Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 130 W. Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10468, USA.


A mutation of the DYT1 gene on chromosome 9q34 has recently been identified as the cause of one form of autosomal-dominantly inherited dystonia. TorsinA, the protein product of this gene, has homology with the family of heat shock proteins, and is found in many peripheral tissues and brain regions. We used a polyclonal antibody to torsinA, developed in our laboratory, to systematically examine the regional distribution of torsinA in rat brain. We find that neurons in all examined structures are immunoreactive for this protein. There is intense immunoreactivity in most neuronal nuclei, with slightly less labeling of cytoplasm and proximal processes. Terminals also are labeled, especially in striatum, neocortex and hippocampus. Double-labeling fluorescence immunohistochemistry using antibodies to neurotransmitters and other neurochemical markers demonstrated that the majority of neurons of all studied neurochemical types are immunoreactive for torsinA. Our findings indicate that torsinA is widely distributed in the central nervous system implicating additional, localized factors, perhaps within the basal ganglia, in the development of dystonia. Many other proteins have a similar widespread distribution, including some which have been implicated in other movement disorders and neurodegenerative processes, such as parkin, alpha-synuclein, ubiquitin and huntingtin. The distribution of torsinA in rat brain as demonstrated by immunohistochemistry contrasts with the results of in situ hybridization studies of torsinA mRNA in human postmortem brain in which a more limited distribution was found.

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