A mutation in protein kinase C-gamma alters SNC neuron morphology and decreases synaptic vesicles in dopaminergic striatal terminals in the AS/AGU rat


A spontaneous mutation in the Albino Swiss (AS) rat has been shown to be a single point mutation (agu) in the gene coding for the gamma isoform of protein kinase C (PKC-γ). The characteristics of the mutant include movement disorders, a failure to release dopamine in the striatum and elevations of molecules such as parkin and ubiquitin in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNC). This present study examined SNC cell bodies and dopaminergic synaptic terminals within the caudate-putamen. Cell volume and nuclear volume were reduced in the AS/AGU mutant compared to the AS control, but the volume fractions of mitochondria and rough endoplasmic reticulum were significantly higher. No Lewy bodies were present in the mutant, although microglia were found adjacent to some SNC cells. Dopaminergic terminals were identified in the caudate-putamen by electron microscopy with low-glutaraldehyde fixation and immunohistochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase using immuno-gold visualisation. AS/AGU mutant rats had less than half of the synaptic vesicles of AS controls; this was not only true of “readily-releasable” zones adjacent to the synaptic cleft but also “storage pool” zones. The findings support the hypothesis that the initial bar to dopamine availability in the striatum is the reduced release, with nigral cell death being a later phenomenon.


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Al-Kushi, A. , Russell, D. and Payne, A. (2013) A mutation in protein kinase C-gamma alters SNC neuron morphology and decreases synaptic vesicles in dopaminergic striatal terminals in the AS/AGU rat. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 6, 1129-1136. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2013.612141.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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