Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
This study focuses on the structure and expression of the mesotocin (MT) gene in the chicken hypothalamus. Using an anchored and nested RT-PCR strategy, combined with circular RACE-PCR, the full length sequence of the chicken MT cDNA was obtained. The cDNA and derived amino acid sequences conformed to the structure of the oxytocin-like gene family. However, unlike most mammalian species, there does not appear to be frequent gene conversion between the MT and AVT cDNA sequences. A single specific hybridization signal of 1.2 kb was detected by Southern analysis of chicken genomic DNA, indicating only a single gene copy in the chicken genome. Northern analysis of hypothalamic RNA revealed a single band at approximately 0.6 kb. Using the same probe for in situ hybridization histochemistry, MT-mRNA was demonstrated to be predominantly localized in the parvocellular, magnocellular and periventricular subgroups of the paraventricular nucleus and, when compared to the distribution of neurons containing arginine-vasotocin (AVT)-mRNA in the same region, with far fewer neurons expressing the MT gene in the lateral subgroups. Only few and scattered neurons expressing the MT gene were found in the ventral and external subgroups of the supraoptic nucleus in which many neurons contain AVT transcripts, as demonstrated in consecutive sections. In all nuclei investigated, the intensity of AVT and MT hybridization signals per cell was approximately equal. No specific labelling for MT-mRNA was found in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, nor the nucleus accumbens. Using immunocytochemical detection of AVT and in situ hybridization for neurons expressing MT-mRNA, some neurons were found to contain both AVT and MT gene products in the paraventricular nucleus but not in the supraoptic nucleus.
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