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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
BEAUDET, A. et al. Fluorescent ligands for studying neuropeptide receptors by confocal microscopy. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 1998, vol.31, n.11, pp.1479-1489. ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X1998001100017.
This paper reviews the use of confocal microscopy as it pertains to the identification of G-protein coupled receptors and the study of their dynamic properties in cell cultures and in mammalian brain following their tagging with specific fluorescent ligands. Principles that should guide the choice of suitable ligands and fluorophores are discussed. Examples are provided from the work carried out in the authors' laboratory using custom synthetized fluoresceinylated or BODIPY-tagged bioactive peptides. The results show that confocal microscopic detection of specifically bound fluorescent ligands permits high resolution appraisal of neuropeptide receptor distribution both in cell culture and in brain sections. Within the framework of time course experiments, it also allows for a dynamic assessment of the internalization and subsequent intracellular trafficking of bound fluorescent molecules. Thus, it was found that neurotensin, somatostatin and mu- and delta-selective opioid peptides are internalized in a receptor-dependent fashion and according to receptor-specific patterns into their target cells. In the case of neurotensin, this internalization process was found to be clathrin-mediated, to proceed through classical endosomal pathways and, in neurons, to result in a mobilization of newly formed endosomes from neural processes to nerve cell bodies and from the periphery of cell bodies towards the perinuclear zone. These mechanisms are likely to play an important role for ligand inactivation, receptor regulation and perhaps also transmembrane signaling.
Keywords : neurotensin; somatostatin; opioids; internalization; endocytosis; confocal microscopy.