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J Neurobiol. 1998 Feb 15;34(3):208-26.

The NO/cGMP pathway and the development of neural networks in postembryonic lobsters.

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Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


The nitric oxide/cyclic 3',5'-guanosine monophosphate (NO/cGMP) signaling pathway has been implicated in certain forms of developmental and adult neuronal plasticity. Here we use whole-mount immunocytochemistry to identify components of this pathway in the nervous system of postembryonic lobsters as they develop through metamorphosis. We find that the synthetic enzyme for NO (nitric oxide synthase, or NOS) and the receptor for this transmitter (NO-sensitive soluble guanylate cyclase) are broadly distributed in the central nervous system (CNS) at hatching. In the brain, NOS immunoreactivity is intensified during glomerular development in the olfactory and accessory lobes. Whereas only a few neurons express NOS in the CNS, many more neurons synthesize cGMP in the presence of NO. NO-sensitive guanylate cyclase activity is a stable feature of some cells, while in others it is regulated during development. In the stomatogastric nervous system, a subset of neurons become responsive to NO at metamorphosis, a time when larval networks are reorganized into adult motor circuits. cGMP accumulation was occasionally detected in the nucleus of many cells in the CNS, which suggests that cGMP may have a role in transcription. Based on these findings, we conclude that the NO/cGMP signaling pathway may participate in the development of the lobster nervous system. Furthermore, NO may serve as a modulatory neurotransmitter for diverse neurons throughout the CNS.

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