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J Comp Neurol. 1989 Aug 1;286(1):71-84.

Histochemistry of acetylcholinesterase and immunocytochemistry of an acetylcholine receptor-like antigen in the brain of the honeybee.

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Institut für Neurobiologie, der Freien Universität Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.


A histochemical staining method for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and an antiserum raised against nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChR) of locust nervous tissue were applied in order to reveal certain candidates of cholinergic pathways in the brain of the honeybee. The AChE staining marked layers in the optic lobes, fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres, and fiber tracts as well as soma clusters within the protocerebrum. The calycal input regions of the mushroom bodies were labelled, whereas the intrinsic Kenyon cells showed no staining. Although the antennal afferents projecting into the dorsal lobe showed strong AChE activity, projections into the antennal lobe showed rather weak staining. Application of the antiserum against the AChR showed immunoreactivity in neuropiles, tracts, somata, and the antennal nerve. The immunoreactivity of the optic lobes coincided with the banding pattern of the AChE staining. A particularly striking overlap of AChR immunoreactivity and AChE staining was found in the lip neuropile of the mushroom bodies, which would suggest a cholinergic input into this neuropile via fibers of the median antennoglomerular tract. Because the antiserum against locust AChR binds in neuropiles displaying AChE activity, we conclude that this antiserum also cross-reacts with the bee's receptor. This interpretation is supported by experiments showing alpha-bungarotoxin (alpha-BTX) binding sites in some areas of strong immunoreactivity.

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