In order to confirm the existence of metabotropic glutamate receptors in astroglial cultures and to provide information on different receptor subtypes, the expression of different mGluRs was analysed in cultures highly enriched in rat astroglial cells. mRNA levels for mGluR1, 2, 3, 4, 7 were undetectable by Northern blot analysis in primary type-1 astroglial cultures derived from total cerebral hemispheres, cerebral cortex and striatum. Interestingly, these cultures expressed a low, but detectable, level of mGluR5 mRNA. The more sensitive technique Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed the presence of mGluR5 transcript in cultured astrocytes and, in addition, revealed the presence of mGluR3 mRNA. The lack of expression of mGluR5 in CG-4 cells, a rat cell line able to differentiate in type-2 astrocytes or oligodendrocytes depending on the culture conditions, suggested that the presence of mGluR5 was not a general feature of cells of glial origin. Moreover, all the examined mGluR transcripts were undetectable by RT-PCR in CG4 cells. In order to confirm the possible expression of mGluR5 in cell of glial origin we examined the mRNA levels for this receptor in tissue samples from human gliomas obtained after surgical resection of the tumors: only 1 sample (grade II astrocytoma), out of 8 examined, showed the presence of mGluR5 mRNA. In conclusion our data show that the only cloned metabotropic receptor linked to phosphoinositide hydrolysis, whose expression is detectable in cultured type-1 astrocytes, is mGluR5. It remains to be established if the low level of expression of mGluR3 could be responsible for the group II metabotropic glutamate receptor activity previously observed in cultured astroglial cells.
- Metabotropic glutamate receptor
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