Complement component 1q subcomponent binding protein (C1qbp) is a multifunctional protein involved in immune response, energy homeostasis of cells as a plasma membrane receptor, and a nuclear, cytoplasmic or mitochondrial protein. Recent reports suggested its neuronal function, too, possibly in axon maintenance, synaptic function, and neuroplasticity. Therefore, we addressed to identify C1qbp in the rat brain using in situ hybridization histochemistry and immunolabelling at light and electron microscopic level. C1qbp has a topographical distribution in the brain established by the same pattern of C1qbp mRNA-expressing and protein-containing neurons with the highest abundance in the cerebral cortex, anterodorsal thalamic nucleus, hypothalamic paraventricular (PVN) and arcuate nuclei, spinal trigeminal nucleus. Double labelling of C1qbp with the neuronal marker NeuN, with the astrocyte marker S100, and the microglia marker Iba1 demonstrated the presence of C1qbp in neurons but not in glial cells in the normal brain, while C1qbp appeared in microglia following their activation induced by focal ischemic lesion. Only restricted neurons expressed C1qbp, for example, in the PVN, magnocellular neurons selectively contained C1qbp. Further double labelling by using the mitochondria marker Idh3a antibody suggested the mitochondrial localization of C1qbp in the brain, confirmed by correlated light and electron microscopy at 3 different brain regions. Post-embedding immunoelectron microscopy also suggested uneven C1qbp content of mitochondria in different brain areas but also heterogeneity within single neurons. These data suggest a specific function of C1qbp in the brain related to mitochondria, such as the regulation of local energy supply in neuronal cells.
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