We investigated immunohistochemically the cellular localization of multifunctional type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase in the rat basal ganglia and intrastriatal grafts derived from fetal striatal primordia, in comparison with that of calcineurin, a reliable marker for striatal medium-sized spinous neurons. The type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-positive neurons were of medium size, with a mean diameter of 16.1 ± 1.8 μm (average ± S.D., n = 72, range 13.6-18.3 μm) and comprised approximately 70% of the total neuronal population in the striatum. Light microscopy showed that the type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-positive cells had round, triangular or polygonal cell bodies with relatively little cytoplasm. Analysis of serial sections showed that type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase and calcineurin immunoreactivities were co-localized in the striatal neurons examined with a similar distribution pattern. Type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-positive cells were always immunoreactive for calcineurin and cells negative for type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase showed no apparent calcineurin immunoreactivity. Type II Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-positive nerve fibers in the globus pallidus and substantia nigra almost disappeared following striatal ischemie injury produced by transient middle cerebral artery occlusion and cerebral hemitransection, respectively, suggesting that these immunopositive fibers were striatal projections. Thus, most type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-positive neurons in the rat striatum are considered to be of the medium-sized spinous type. Type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase or calcineurin immunoreactivity was also observed in a large number of neurons in transplants derived from fetal striatal primordia grafted into striatal ischemie lesions. In addition, type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase- or calcineurin-immunoreactive nerve fibers appeared in the deafferented globus pallidus of the host rats, suggesting that the striatopallidal pathway was reformed by striatal projection neurons of the transplants. This finding may also indicate that Ca2+/calmodulin-regulated enzymes are useful for tracing striatal projection fibers as endogenous marker proteins.
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