Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Distribution of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) in the central and peripheral nervous systems of the rat

  • Martin K. -H. Schäfer
  • Eberhard Weihe
  • Hélène Varoqui
  • Lee E. Eiden
  • Jeffrey D. Erickson


Expression of the acetylcholine biosynthetic enzyme choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT), and the high-affinity plasma membrane choline transporter uniquely defines the cholinergic phenotype in the mammalian central (CNS) and peripheral (PNS) nervous systems. The distribution of cells expressing the messenger RNA encoding the recently cloned VAChT in the rat CNS and PNS is described here. The pattern of expression of VAChT mRNA is consistent with anatomical, pharmacological, and histochemical information on the distribution of functional cholinergic neurons in the brain and peripheral tissues of the rat. VAChT mRNA-containing cells are present in brain areas, including neocortex and hypothalamus, in which the existence of cholinergic neurons has been the subject of debate. The demonstration that VAChT is a completely adequate marker for cholinergic neurons should allow the systematic delineation of cholinergic synapses in the rat nervous system when antibodies directed to this protein are available.

Index Entries

Cholinergic vesicular acetylcholine transporter VAChT mRNA brain parasympathetic spinal cord cerebral cortex basal forebrain 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin K. -H. Schäfer
    • 1
  • Eberhard Weihe
    • 1
  • Hélène Varoqui
    • 2
  • Lee E. Eiden
    • 2
  • Jeffrey D. Erickson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyJohannes-Gutenberg UniversitätMainzFRG
  2. 2.Section on Molecular Neuroscience, Laboratory of Cell BiologyNational Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of HealthBethesda

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