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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mapping oxytocin receptor gene expression in the mouse brain and mammary gland using an oxytocin receptor-LacZ reporter mouse.

The hypothalamic nonapeptide oxytocin (OT) has an established role as a circulating hormone but can also act as a neurotransmitter and as a neuromodulator by interacting with its central OT receptor (OTR). To understand the role of the OTR in the mouse brain we investigated the expression of the OTR gene at the cellular level. We targeted the lacZ reporter gene to the OTR gene locus downstream of the endogenous OTR regulatory elements. Using lactating mouse mammary gland as a control for OTR promoter directed specificity of lacZ gene expression, X-gal histochemistry on tissue sections confirmed that gene expression was restricted to the myoepithelial cells. We also identified for the first time in mice the expression of the OTR gene in neighbouring adipocytes. Further, investigation in the mouse brain identified numerous nuclei containing neurons expressing the OTR gene. Whilst some of these regions had been described for rat or sheep, the OTR-LacZ reporter mouse enabled the identification of novel sites of central OTR gene expression. These regions include the accessory olfactory bulb, the medial septal nucleus, the posterolateral cortical amygdala nucleus, the posterior aspect of the basomedial amygdala nucleus, the medial part of the supramammillary nucleus, the dorsotuberomammillary nucleus, the medial and lateral entorhinal cortices, as well as specific dorsal tegmental, vestibular, spinal trigeminal, and solitary tract subnuclei. By mapping the distribution of OTR gene expression, depicted through histochemical detection of beta-galactosidase, we were able to identify single OTR gene expressing neurons and small neuron clusters that would have remained undetected by conventional approaches.These novel sites of OTR gene expression suggest additional functions of the oxytocinergic system in the mouse. These results lay the foundation for future investigation into the neural role of the OTR and provide a useful model for further study of oxytocin functions in the mouse.[1]


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