The messenger RNAs encoding three somatostatin receptor subtypes, SSTR1, SSTR2 and SSTR3, were detected in rat by RNA blotting and in situ hybridization histochemistry to identify the sites of synthesis and expression of these somatostatin receptor subtypes. RNA blotting revealed that SSTR1 messenger RNA of 3.8 kilobases was highly expressed in cerebral cortex, hippocampus, midbrain and hypothalamus. In situ hybridization histochemistry revealed that SSTR1 messenger RNA was localized to discrete layers of the cerebral cortex, the piriform cortex and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. SSTR1 messenger RNA was expressed at low levels in the cerebellum and pituitary and was not detectable in striatum or other peripheral organs. At least two SSTR2 messenger RNAs were detected by RNA blotting of 2.4 and 2.8 kilobases which correspond to the size of the spliced and unspliced forms of this receptor messenger RNA. SSTR2 messenger RNA detected by in situ hybridization is diffusely expressed in cerebral cortex and amygdala but is discretely localized to dentate gyrus in the hippocampus, medial habenula and ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei and arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. The levels of SSTR2 messenger RNA are very low in the cerebellum and were not observed in the striatum or peripheral tissues other than the pituitary or adrenal gland. A single SSTR3 messenger RNA of 4.0 kilobases was seen in hippocampus, cerebral cortex, midbrain, hypothalamus and pituitary. However, the tissue with the highest levels of SSTR3 messenger RNA is the cerebellum with messenger RNA localized to the granule cell layer. The expression of the three different somatostatin receptor messenger RNAs are distinct but overlapping. Such distinct expression may contribute to the selective biological roles of the receptor subtypes.
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