We have used the post-embedding immunogold labelling method using antibodies to γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to obtain quantitative data on the distribution, frequency, postsynaptic targets and ultrastructural characteristics of GABA-immunoreactive (GABA-IR) boutons in the trigeminal motor nucleus of rats. We have also combined this method with horseradish peroxidase tracing to obtain specific evidence for termination of some GABA-IR boutons onto identified jaw-elevator motoneurones. Twenty-eight percent of all synapses in the motor nucleus involved GABA-IR boutons. Seventy-three percent of the GABA-IR boutons formed axo-dendritic synapses, 13% axo-somatic synapses and 14% axo-axonic synapses. Ninety-three percent of GABA-IR boutons formed symmetrical synapses. Overall, 58% of all boutons contained only flattened vesicles, while 26% contained round vesicles and 16% a mixture of vesicle types. Measurements of bouton crops sectional area, apposition length, and active zone length were obtained from serial reconstructions of 15 GABA-IR boutons and 30 unlabelled boutons. In each case mean values for GABA-IR boutons were significantly smaller than those for nonlabelled boutons.
- Electron microscopy
- γ-Aminobutyric acid