Ultrastructural localization of nitrotyrosine within the caudate-putamen nucleus and the globus pallidus of normal rat brain

Elizabeth A. Bolan, K. Noelle Gracy, June Chan, Rosario R. Trifiletti, Virginia M. Pickel

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Nitration of protein tyrosine residues by nitric oxide (NO)derived reactive species results in the production of stable nitrotyrosine (NT) moieties that are immunochemically detectable in many regions of normal brain and enriched in those areas containing constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS). These include the caudate-putamen nucleus (CPN) and the globus pallidus, which receives major inhibitory input from the CPN. To determine the functional sites for NT production in these critical motor nuclei, we examined the electron microscopic immunocytochemical localization of NT and cNOS in rat brain. In the CPN, NT was localized to the somata and dendrites of cNOS-containing interneurons and spiny neurons, some of which received input from cNOS-labeled terminals. The NT immunoreactivity was most prevalent on outer mitochondrial membranes and nearby segments of the plasma membranes in dendrites and within asymmetric synapses on dendritic spines. In the CPN and globus pallidus, there was also a prominent labeling of NT in astrocytic processes, small axons, and tubulovesicles and/or synaptic vesicles in axon terminals. These terminals formed mainly asymmetric synapses in the CPN and inhibitory-type synapses in the globus pallidus where they often apposed cNOS-containing terminals that also formed asymmetric, excitatory-type synapses. Our results suggest that NT is generated by mechanisms requiring the dual actions of excitatory transmitters and NO derived either from interneurons in the CPN or from excitatory afferents in the globus pallidus. The findings also implicate NT in the physiological actions of NO within the striatal circuitry and, particularly, in striatopallidal neurons severely affected in Huntington's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4798-4808
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Motor function
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Plasticity
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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