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Brain Structure and Function
Organic cation transporter 3 (OCT3) is a high-capacity, low-affinity transporter that mediates corticosterone-sensitive uptake of monoamines including norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, histamine and serotonin. OCT3 is expressed widely throughout the amygdaloid complex and other brain regions where monoamines are key regulators of emotional behaviors affected by stress. However, assessing the contribution of OCT3 to the regulation of monoaminergic neurotransmission and monoamine-dependent regulation of behavior requires fundamental information about the subcellular distribution of OCT3 expression. We used immunofluorescence and immuno-electron microscopy to examine the cellular and subcellular distribution of the transporter in the basolateral amygdaloid complex of the rat and mouse brain. OCT3-immunoreactivity was observed in both glial and neuronal perikarya in both rat and mouse amygdala. Electron microscopic immunolabeling revealed plasma membrane-associated OCT3 immunoreactivity on axonal, dendritic, and astrocytic processes adjacent to a variety of synapses, as well as on neuronal somata. In addition to plasma membrane sites, OCT3 immunolabeling was also observed associated with neuronal and glial endomembranes, including Golgi, mitochondrial and nuclear membranes. Particularly prominent labeling of the outer nuclear membrane was observed in neuronal, astrocytic, microglial and endothelial perikarya. The localization of OCT3 to neuronal and glial plasma membranes adjacent to synaptic sites is consistent with an important role for this transporter in regulating the amplitude, duration, and physical spread of released monoamines, while its localization to mitochondrial and outer nuclear membranes suggests previously undescribed roles for the transporter in the intracellular disposition of monoamines.