Taurine neurons and their dendrites and axons were visualized in the mammalian cerebellum by autoradiography, after in vivo injections of [(3)H]taurine directly into the cerebellar cortex or deep cerebellar nuclei, and by immunocytochemistry at the light- and electron-microscope levels with antibodies against cysteine-sulfinic acid decarboxylase (CSADCase; L-cysteine-sulfinate carboxylyase, EC 188.8.131.52). Uptake and sequestration of [(3)H]taurine labeled numerous Purkinje cell somata, primary dendrites, and axons; many granule cell somata, dendrites, and parallel fibers; stellate, basket, and Golgi cells; the larger neurons in all deep cerebellar nuclei; the largest neurons in the lateral vestibular nucleus; and, more rarely, Purkinje cell axonal terminals in the neuropil. The label at all sites was diminished by preinjection into the cerebellum of hypotaurine, p-chloromercuriphenylsulfonic acid, or β-alanine, and was virtually eliminated by strychnine. Immunocytochemical labeling with polyclonal antibodies directed against CSADCase, the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of hypotaurine from cysteine sulfinic acid and taurine from cysteic acid, had a similar distribution. In electron micrographs, immunoreactivity within Purkinje cell somata and dendrites was localized to the Golgi apparatus, the inner plasma membrane, and condensed nonmembranous foci (120 nm in diameter) marked by clumps of peroxidase reaction product. Large Nissl bodies were usually not CSADCase immunoreactive. Numerous immunoreactive granule cells, dendrites, and parallel fibers were recognized. Pretreatment of the animals with colchicine increased the intensity of CSADCase immunoreactivity but did not change the number or distribution of labeled cells. These experiments indicate that taurine is synthesized and involved in a specific uptake process by cerebellar neurons. Neuroglial cells do not synthesize taurine but some neuroglia take up [(3)H]taurine. These findings call for a reexamination of the physiological function of taurine in the cerebellum. A hypothesis is proposed that taurine may be involved in the regulation of calcium, in dendritic spike generation, and in the inhibition of impulse propagation in major Purkinje cell dendrites
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