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J Comp Neurol. 2010 Apr 15;518(8):1157-75. doi: 10.1002/cne.22303.

Development of nitrergic neurons in the nervous system of the locust embryo.

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Cell Biology, Institute of Physiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, D-30173 Hannover, Germany.


We followed the development of the nitric oxide-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (NO-cGMP) system during locust embryogenesis in whole mount nervous systems and brain sections by using various cytochemical techniques. We visualized NO-sensitive neurons by cGMP immunofluorescence after incubation with an NO donor in the presence of the soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activator YC-1 and the phosphodiesterase-inhibitor isobutyl-methyl-xanthine (IBMX). Central nervous system (CNS) cells respond to NO as early as 38% embryogenesis. By using the NADPH-diaphorase technique, we identified somata and neurites of possible NO-synthesizing cells in the CNS. The first NADPH-diaphorase-positive cell bodies appear around 40% embryogenesis in the brain and at 47% in the ventral nerve cord. The number of positive cells reaches the full complement of adult cells at 80%. In the brain, some structures, e.g., the mushroom bodies acquire NADPH-diaphorase staining only postembryonically. Immunolocalization of L-citrulline confirmed the presence of NOS in NADPH-diaphorase-stained neurons and, in addition, indicated enzymatic activity in vivo. In whole mount ventral nerve cords, citrulline immunolabeling was present in varying subsets of NADPH-diaphorase-positive cells, but staining was very variable and often weak. However, in a regeneration paradigm in which one of the two connectives between ganglia had been crushed, strong, reliable staining was observed as early as 60% embryogenesis. Thus, citrulline immunolabeling appears to reflect specific activity of NOS. However, in younger embryos, NOS may not always be constitutively active or may be so at a very low level, below the citrulline antibody detection threshold. For the CNS, histochemical markers for NOS do not provide conclusive evidence for a developmental role of this enzyme.

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