The cellular localization of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate glutamate receptor, GluR3, was identified using antibodies that recognize the N-terminus of the predicted polypeptide sequence of GluR3. Regional immunoblot analysis of monkey brain homogenates identified a protein of ∼102,000 mol. wt that was enriched in hypothalamus. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated that GluR3 was enriched within the hypothalamic magnocellular neurosecretory nuclei and axons of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial tract in rat and monkey. GluR3 immunoreactivity co-localized to oxytocin-containing, but not vasopressin-containing, neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, supraoptic nucleus and accessory magnocellular nuclei. Ultrastructurally, GluR3 immunoreactivity was enriched throughout cytoplasm of the somatodendritic compartment and was associated with postsynaptic and presynaptic structures. GluR3 immunoreactivity was frequently observed to be clustered at the plasma membrane of the somatodendritic compartment, consistent with the predicted localization of a membrane-bound ion channel. Additionally, GluR3-immunoreactive axon terminals in synaptic contact with unlabeled dendrites within the retrochiasmatic area and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis were observed, providing morphological evidence for a presynaptic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptor. By immunoblot analysis and immunocytochemistry using antibodies directed against a specific α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptor in rat and monkey brain, our findings suggest a highly selective hypothalamic distribution of the GluR3 subunit that may have functional significance in the glutamatergic regulation of oxytocinergic neurons.
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