The cellular and subcellular distribution of the regulatory subunit RII of cAMP-dependent protein kinase was studied by light and electron microscopy immunocytochemistry in tissue sections from rat brain and in primary cultures of brain cells. RII immunoreactivity was present in most neurons, although at variable concentration. In addition, RII was also detectable in other cell types including glia, neuroepithelial cells, and cells of mesenchymal origin. In the cell cytoplasm, RII immunoreactivity was concentrated at certain sites. An accumulation of RII immunoreactivity was found in all RII-positive cells at the Golgi area, precisely at a region directly adjacent to one of the two major faces of the Golgi complex. RII was also highly concentrated in some microtubule-rich cell processes such as cilia and neuronal dendrites, but was below detectability in most axons. In neurons, its concentration in dendrites is consistent with the previously demonstrated high affinity interaction between RII and the dendritic microtubule-associated protein 2. In addition, RII was accumulated at basal bodies of cilia and at centrosomes, i.e., sites known to act as microtubule organizers. RII-labeled centrosomes, however, were visible only in cells where the Golgi complex had a pericentrosomal organization, and not in cells where the Golgi complex was perinuclear such as in neurons and glia in situ. We hypothesize that centrosomal RII is bound to the pericentriolar microtubule-organizing material and that this material remains associated with the trans region of the Golgi complex when the latter is no longer associated with the centrosome. Our results suggest a key but not obligatory role of cAMP in the Golgi-centrosomal area, the headquarters of cell polarity, mobility and intracellular traffic, and in the function of a subpopulation of microtubules.

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