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Neurosci Lett. 2014 Mar 20;563:66-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2014.01.031. Epub 2014 Jan 30.

Expression and anatomical distribution of TrkB in the encephalon of the adult zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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Department of Veterinary Science, University of Messina, Italy.
Department of Drug Sciences and Health Products, University of Messina, Messina, Italy; IRCCS centro neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo", Messina, Italy.
Departmento de Morfología y Biología Celular, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Messina, Italy; Zebrafish Neuromorphology Lab, University of Messina, Italy. Electronic address:


Neurotrophins are a family of growth factor primarily acting in the nervous system, throughout two categories of membrane receptors on the basis of their high (Trk receptors) or low (p75NTR) affinity. Both neurotrophins and Trk receptors are phylogenetically conserved and are expressed not only in the central and peripheral nervous system but also in non-nervous tissues of vertebrates and some invertebrates. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)/TrkB system plays an important role in the development, phenotypic maintenance and plasticity of specific neuronal populations. Considering that this system is poorly characterized in the central nervous system of teleosts, the expression and anatomical distribution of TrkB in the brain of the adult zebrafish using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western-blot and immunohistochemistry were analysed. Both the riboprobe and the antibody used were designed to map within the catalytic domain of TrkB. RT-PCR detected specific TrkB mRNA in brain homogenates, while Western-blot identified one unique protein band with an estimated molecular weight of 145kDa, thus corresponding with the TrkB full-length isiform of the receptor. Immunohistochemistry showed specific TrkB immunoreactivity in restricted areas of the encephalon, i.e. the hypothalamus and a specific neuronal subpopulation of the reticular formation. The present results demonstrate, for the first time, that, as in mammals, the encephalon of adult zebrafish expresses TrkB in specific zones related to food intake, behaviour or motor activity.


Brain; Neutrophins; TrkB; Zebrafish

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