Expression of the beta-nerve growth factor gene in hippocampal neurons

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Science  03 Jun 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4857, pp. 1339-1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.2897715


In situ hybridization with complementary DNA probes for nerve growth factor (NGF) was used to identify cells containing NGF messenger RNA in rat and mouse brain. The most intense labeling occurred in hippocampus, where hybridizing neurons were found in the dentate gyrus and the pyramidal cell layer. The neuronal identity of NGF mRNA-containing cells was further assessed by a loss of NGF-hybridizing mRNA in hippocampal areas where neurons had been destroyed by kainic acid or colchicine. RNA blot analysis also revealed a considerable decrease in the level of NGF mRNA in rat dentate gyrus after a lesion was produced by colchicine. This lesion also caused a decrease in the level of Thy-1 mRNA and an increase in the level of glial fibrillary acidic protein mRNA. Neuronal death was thus associated with the disappearance of NGF mRNA. These results suggest a synthesis of NGF by neurons in the brain and imply that, in hippocampus, NGF influences NGF-sensitive neurons through neuron-to-neuron interactions.