Caveolae are involved in clathrin-independent endocytosis, transcytosis, signal transduction, and tumor suppression – all of which depend on their main constituent protein caveolin families. The periodontal Ruffini ending has been reported to develop a caveola-like structure on the cell membrane of both the axon terminals and Schwann sheaths, suggesting the existence of an axon–Schwann cell interaction in the periodontal Ruffini endings. However, little information is available concerning the functional significance of these caveolae. The present study was undertaken to examine the immunolocalization of caveolin-1, -3 (Cav-1, Cav-3) and Ca2+-ATPase in the periodontal Ruffini endings of the rat incisor. Decalcified sections of the upper jaws were processed for immunocytochemistry at the levels of light and electron microscopy. Some immunostained sections were treated with histochemistry for nonspecific cholinesterase (nChE) activity. Observations showed the periodontal Ruffini endings were immunopositive for Cav-1, but not Cav-3. Immunoreactive products for Cav-1 were confined to caveola-like structures in the cell membranes of the cytoplasmic extensions and cell bodies of the terminal Schwann cells associated with the periodontal Ruffini endings. However, the axonal membranes of the terminals did not express any Cav-1 immunoreaction. Double staining with Ca2+-ATPase and either protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) or S-100 protein disclosed the co-localization of immunoreactions in the axonal branches of the periodontal Ruffini endings, but not in the terminal Schwann cells. As Ca2+ plays an important role in mechanotransduction, these characteristic immunolocalizations show Cav-1/Ca2+-ATPase might be involved in the quick elimination of intracellular Ca2+ in mechanotransduction
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