Calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase, previously called CaM-BP80 or calcineurin, is present in high concentrations in the central nervous system. The level of the phosphatase has been shown by radioimmunoassay to increase during development in the retinas of embryonic and hatching chicks (Tallant, E.A., and W.Y. Cheung, 1983, Biochemistry, 22:3630-3635). The aims of this study are to immunocytochemically localize the phosphatase in developing and mature retinas and to determine if the phosphatase is present in fractions of retinal synaptic membranes and synaptic junctions. Vibratome slices of fixed chick retina and Western blots of detergent-solubilized retinal fractions are both treated sequentially with rabbit primary antisera and goat anti-rabbit Fab fragments conjugated to peroxidase, and then reacted with hydrogen peroxide and diaminobenzidine. The tissue slices are further processed for electron microscopy. This paper demonstrates the presence of peroxidase reaction product in the retina just before synapse formation. In the outer plexiform layer the product is confined to photoreceptor synaptic terminals, whereas in the inner plexiform layer it is present in synaptic terminals of bipolar cells and in dendrites of ganglion cells. In this latter site the product is present postsynaptically at bipolar and amacrine synapses. The phosphatase is detected in Western blots of both synaptic plasma membrane and synaptic junction fractions.

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