Regional and subcellular distribution of a neutral and basic amino acid transporter in forebrain neurons containing nitric oxide synthase
Phospholipid Transfer Proteins
The neutral and basic amino acid transporter (NBAT) facilitates sodium-independent transport of L-amino acids in renal and intestinal epithelial cells and has been postulated to play a similar role in neurons. In previous studies, NBAT has been detected within enteric and brainstem autonomic neurons in a distribution similar to that of constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS). Furthermore, L-arginine, the required precursor for nitric oxide synthesis, is an excellent NBAT substrate. Together, these findings suggest that NBAT may play a role in the regulation of nitric oxide synthesis, through the control of precursor availability. To gain insight into the potential physiological role of NBAT in central neurons, we used an antipeptide antiserum to examine the light and electron microscopic immunocytochemical localization of NBAT in the rat forebrain and to compare this distribution with that of cNOS. Immunolabeling for NBAT was detected within perikarya and dendrite-like processes that were most numerous in the frontal and cingulate cortex, the ventral striatum, the central amygdala, and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Labeled varicose axonal processes were distributed most densely in the agranular insular cortex and the paraventricular nuclei of the thalamus and hypothalamus (PVH). Electron microscopy showed that immunogold labeling for NBAT was distributed along plasmalemmal and vacuolar membranes within somata, dendrites, and axonal profiles. Many of the NBAT-containing somata and dendrites contained detectable cNOS. Our results suggest that expression of NBAT may provide specific populations of cNOS-containing forebrain neurons with a unique mechanism for regulating somatodendritic synthesis of nitric oxide.