It is generally believed that only L-amino acids have a physiological role in species other than bacteria. Recently, the existence of some D-amino acids, particularly D-aspartate, in various organs of several higher animals has been reported. Here we demonstrate that naturally occurring free D-aspartate is localized subcellularly to the heterochromatin in the nucleoli (but not in either the dendrites or axonal terminals) of magnocellular neurosecretory neurons in the rat hypothalamus, and also of microglia and pericytes in the posterior pituitary. Our results imply that naturally occurring free D-aspartate might have a physiological role in nuclear function in mammals. The findings provide new insight for the biological function of D-stereoisomers of amino acids as well as the organization of the nucleus of at least some eukaryotic cells.
- D-amino acids
- Hypothalamo-neurohypophyseal system
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