, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 449-456

Localization of nitric oxide synthase-like immunoreactivity in the developing nervous system of the snail Ilyanassa obsoleta

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Abstract

Production of nitric oxide (NO), an evolutionarily conserved, intercellular signaling molecule, appears to be required for the maintenance of the larval state in the gastropod mollusc Ilyanassa obsoleta. Pharmacological inactivation of endogenous nitric oxide synthase (NOS), the enzyme that generates NO, can trigger metamorphosis in physiologically competent larvae of this species. Neuropils in the brains of these competent larvae display histochemical reactivity for NADPH diaphorase (NADPHd), an indication of neuronal NOS activity. The intensity of NADPHd staining is greatest in the neuropil of the apical ganglion (AG), a region of the brain that contains the apical sensory organ and that innervates the bilobed ciliated velum, the larval swimming and feeding organ. Once metamorphosis is initiated, the intensity of NADPHd staining in the AG and presumably, concomitant NO production, decline. The AG is finally lost by the end of larval metamorphosis, some 4 days after induction. To determine if the neurons of the AG are a source of larval NO, we conducted immunocytochemical studies on larval Ilyanassa with commercially available antibodies to mammalian neuronal NOS. We localized NOS-like immunoreactivity (NOS-IR) to 3 populations of cells in competent larvae: somata of the AG and putative sensory neurons in the edge of the mantle and foot. Immunocytochemistry on pre-competent larvae demonstrated that numbers of NOS-IR cells in the AG increase throughout the planktonic larval stage.