GABAergic signaling in the pulmonary neuroepithelial body microenvironment : functional imaging in GAD67-GFP mice
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Histochemistry and cell biology. - Heidelberg
, p. 549-566
University of Antwerp
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates, but has also been reported in multiple cell types outside the CNS. A GABAergic system has been proposed in neuroepithelial bodies (NEBs) in monkey lungs. Pulmonary NEBs are known as complex intraepithelial sensory airway receptors and are part of the NEB microenvironment. Aim of the present study was to unravel a GABAergic signaling system in the NEB microenvironment in mouse lungs, enabling the use of genetically modified animals for future functional studies. Immunostaining of mouse lungs revealed that glutamic acid decarboxylase 65/67 (GAD65/67), a rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of GABA, and the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT) were exclusively expressed in NEB cells. In GAD67-green fluorescent protein (GFP) knock-in mice, all pulmonary NEBs appeared to express GFP. For confocal live cell imaging, ex vivo vibratome lung slices of GAD67-GFP mice can be directly loaded with fluorescent functional probes, e.g. a red-fluorescent calcium dye, without the necessity of time-consuming prior live visualization of NEBs. RT-PCR of the NEB microenvironment obtained by laser microdissection revealed the presence of both GABA(A) and GABA(B) (R1 and R2) receptors, which was confirmed by immunostaining. In conclusion, the present study not only revealed the presence of a GABAergic signaling pathway, but also the very selective expression of GFP in pulmonary NEBs in a GAD67-GFP mouse model. Different proof of concept experiments have clearly shown that adoption of the GAD67-GFP mouse model will certainly boost future functional imaging and gene expression analysis of the mouse NEB microenvironment.