Characterization and ontogeny of synapse-associated proteins in the developing facial and hypoglossal motor nuclei of the Brazilian opossum

Jack J. Swanson, M. Cathleen Kuehl-Kovarik, Michael C. Wilson, Joel K. Elmquist, Carol D. Jacobson

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The characterization and ontogeny of synapse-associated proteins in the developing facial and hypoglossal motor nuclei were examined in the Brazilian opossum (Monodelphis domestica). Immunohistochemical markers utilized in this study were the synaptic vesicle-associated proteins synaptophysin and synaptotagmin; a synaptic membrane protein, plasma membrane-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25); a growth cone protein, growth-associated phosphoprotein-43 (GAP-43); and the microtubule-associated proteins axonal marker τ and dendritic marker microtubule-associated protein-2 (MAP-2). In this study, we have found that, during the first 10 postnatal days (1-10 PN), the facial motor nucleus lacked immunoreactivity for synaptophysin, synaptotagmin, GAP-43, τ, and SNAP-25. After 10 PN, immunoreactivity increased in the facial motor nucleus for synaptophysin, synaptotagmin, GAP- 43, and τ, whereas immunoreactivity for SNAP-25 was not evident until between 15 and 25 PN. Conversely, immunoreactivity for MAP-2, was present in the facial motor nucleus from the day of birth. In contrast, the hypoglossal motor nucleus displayed immunoreactivity from 1 PN for synaptophysin, synaptotagmin, SNAP-25, GAP-43, τ, and MAP-2. These results suggest that the facial motor nucleus of the opossum may not receive afferent innervation as defined by classical synaptic markers until 15 PN and, further, that characteristic mature synapses are not present until between 15 and 25 PN. These results indicate that there may be a delay in synaptogenesis in the facial motor nucleus compared to synaptogenetic events in the hypoglossal motor nucleus. Because the facial motor nucleus is active prior to completion of synaptogenesis, we suggest that the facial motoneurons are regulated in a novel or distinct manner during this time period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-284
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 29 1996



  • monodelphis
  • SNAP-25
  • synaptogenesis
  • synaptophysin
  • synaptotagmin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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