The distribution of excitatory amino acid binding sites in the brain of an electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus

Leonard Maler, Daniel Monaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The distribution of three types of exitatory amino acid receptors was examined in the brain of a high frequency weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus, by localizing the binding sites of ligands selective for mammalian kainic acid (KA), quisqualate (AMPA) and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. All three binding sites were densest within the forebrain and in certain hypothalamic nuclei (nucleus tuberis anterior, inferior lobe). The core of the dorsal forebrain (dorsal centralis) had a very high density of NMDA binding sites and only moderate levels of AMPA and KA binding sites, while this was reversed for the dorsolateral forebrain. The AMPA and NMDA binding sites were found throughout the brain while KA binding sites were relatively restricted and were absent from most of the brainstem. The cerebellar molecular layer contained a very high density of KA and AMPA binding sites but almost no NMDA binding sites; the granular layer had a low density of AMPA and NMDA binding sites but was lacking in KA binding sites. All three types of binding sites were found within the electromotor system (nucleus electrosensorius and prepacemaker nucleus) at sites where the iontophoresis of glutamate causes species-specific behaviours. KA binding sites were found at only two sites along the electrosensory afferent pathways: (1) in the molecular layer of the electrosensory lateral line lobe, associated with a feedback pathway emanating from granule cells of the overlying cerebellum, and (2) in the lateral nucleus praeminentialis dorsalis, associated with a descending pathway emanating from the torus semicircularis. NMDA and AMPA binding sites are found throughout the electrosensory pathways. Within the electrosensory lateral line lobe the NMDA binding sites were predominantly associated with the feedback pathways terminating in its molecular layer and not with the deep neuropil layer containing primary electroreceptor afferents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-61
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991


  • Aspartate Glutamate receptors Kainic acid N-methyl-d-aspartate AMPA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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