The amino acid D-serine is an endogenous coagonist of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in mammals that has been shown to play an important role in synaptic function, behavior, learning, and memory. The distribution and cellular location of D-serine in the brain of the sea lamprey was investigated by using immunofluorescence methods. One major finding of our study, unlike early studies of mammals, was the localization of D-serine immunoreactivity in perikarya and dendrites of neurons, whereas D-serine immunoreactivity was not generally observed in the lamprey glia. D-serine-immunoreactive neurons were observed in different brain regions, including the olfactory bulb, medial pallium, thalamus, torus semicircularis, isthmus, and reticular formation. The colocalization of D-serine with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was also studied with a double-immunofluorescence technique. The relationship between D-serine and glycine immunoreactivities was studied in alternate parallel series of sections stained for either D-serine/GABA or glycine/GABA. Colocalization with GABA was observed in various D-serine-immunoreactive populations, and codistribution and possible colocalization with glycine was also observed in some populations, mainly in the dorsal isthmic gray, medial octavolateral nucleus, dorsal column nucleus, interpeduncular nucleus, and reticular formation. Although numerous fibers were strongly GABA- and glycine-immunoreactive, D-serine immunoreactivity was observed mostly in cell perikarya and dendrites. The present results indicate that the D-serine immunoreactive cells are small to medium-sized neurons, some exhibiting classical inhibitory neurotransmitters, in which D-serine might be acting as a modulator. The neuronal distribution of D-serine and its frequent colocalization and/or codistribution with the two main inhibitory neurotransmitters appeared early in vertebrates.
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