Developmental and plasticity-related differential expression of two SNAP-25 isoforms in the rat brain

Ursula Boschert, Celestine O'Shaughnessy, Robin Dickinson, Michela Tessari, Caterina Bendotti, Stefan Catsicas, Emilio Merlo Pich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we study the relationship between the expression pattern of two recently identified isoforms of the 25-kD synaptosomal-associated protein (SNAP-25a and SNAP-25b) and the morphological changes inherent to neuronal plasticity during development and kainic acid treatment. SNAP-25 has been involved in vescicle fusion in the nerve terminal, and most likely participates in different membrane fusion-related processes, such as those involved in neurotransmitter release and axonal growth. In the adult brain, SNAP-25b expression exceeded SNAP-25a in distribution and intensity, being present in most brain structures. Moderate or high levels of SNAP-25a hybridization signal were found in neurons of the olfactory bulb, the layer Va of the frontal and parietal cortices, the piriform cortex, the subiculum and the hippocampal CA4 field, the substantia nigra/pars compacta, and the pineal gland, partially overlapping SNAP-25b mRNA distribution. In restricted regions of cerebral cortex, thalamus, mammillary bodies, substantia nigra, and pineal glands the two isoforms were distributed in reciprocal fashion. During development SNAP-25a mRNA was the predominant isoform, whereas SNAP-25b expression increased postnatally. The early expression of SNAP-25a in the embryo and the decrease after P21 is suggestive of a potential involvement of this isoform in axonal growth and/or synaptogenesis. This conclusion is indirectly supported by the observation that SNAP-25a mRNA, but not SNAP-25b mRNA, was upregulated in the granule cells of the adult dentate gyrus 48 hours after kainate-induced neurotoxic damage of the hippocampal CA3-CA4 regions. Increase of SNAP-25 immunoreactivity was observed as early as 4 days after kainate injection within the mossy fiber terminals of the CA3 region, and in the newly formed mossy fiber aberrant terminals of the supragranular layer. These data suggest an isoformspecific role of SNAP-25 in neural plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-193
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 1996


  • Development
  • Hippocampus
  • In situ hybridization
  • Kainic acid
  • SNAP-25

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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