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J Comp Neurol. 1998 Sep 14;399(1):139-51.

Distribution of prepro-nociceptin/orphanin FQ mRNA and its receptor mRNA in developing and adult mouse central nervous systems.

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Laboratory for Cellular Information Processing, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Wako, Saitama, Japan.


Nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) and its receptor share similarities to opioids and their receptors in terms of the molecular structure and signaling pathway, but the two systems exhibit different actions in vivo. To understand the mechanism of N/OFQ-system actions, we examined, by in situ hybridization analysis, the distribution of preproN/OFQ and N/OFQ receptor mRNAs in the developing and adult mouse central nervous systems (CNS). In most neural regions, preproN/OFQ mRNA was mainly expressed in a small population of middle-sized neurons. These neurons were scattered between large projection-type neurons or within the neuropil, suggestive of interneurons. In some other nuclei (lateral septum, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, reticular thalamic nucleus, inferior colliculus, and rostral periolivery nucleus), preproN/OFQ mRNA was expressed in a number of large projection-type neurons. By contrast, N/OFQ receptor mRNA was evenly expressed in most neurons of the adult CNS. Considering the inhibitory actions of N/OFQ, the distinct cellular expression pattern of the N/OFQ system suggests that the release of N/OFQ from interneurons may lower neuronal and synaptic activities of neighboring neurons, leading to integration or modulation of local circuits. Furthermore, the cellular expression pattern, distinct from that of the opioid system, may provide a possible molecular/cellular basis for the different in vivo actions of N/OFQ and opioids. In embryonic stages, both preproN/OFQ and N/OFQ receptor mRNAs were highly and widely expressed in the mantle zone, suggesting the possible importance of N/OFQ signaling in CNS development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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