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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1993 Nov 19;76(1):75-8.

Developmental expression of cannabinoid receptor mRNA.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298.


Cloning of the cannabinoid receptor affords the opportunity to examine its developmental expression. Other G-protein-coupled receptor systems, those for the opioids for example, exhibit distinct ontogenies. For the initial study, therefore, cannabinoid receptor mRNA expression was assessed in rat pups postnatal days 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18 and 21. The brains were grossly dissected into cerebellum/brainstem and forebrain, and total RNA was extracted by a modified acid-extraction method. Expression of the cannabinoid receptor was analyzed by two methods: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Northern blot analysis. Oligonucleotide primers based on bp 1-21 and bp 824-843 on the opposite strand were chosen for use in the PCR. The probe used in the Northern blot analysis was a full length cDNA corresponding to the rat cannabinoid receptor and was cloned in our lab based on published sequence information. Our results indicate that by postnatal day 3, cannabinoid receptor mRNA can be detected in the brain. Our results further indicate that cannabinoid mRNA expression steadily increases in the cerebellum/brainstem until postnatal days 18-21, while expression in the forebrain does not change. The findings from the present study indicate that cannabinoid receptor mRNA is present in very young rats. Our data also suggest, however, regional differences in the relative expression of message which may parallel cerebellar proliferation and organization.

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