An immunofluorescence study of neurofilament protein expression by developing hippocampal neurons in tissue culture

G. Shaw, G. A. Banker, K. Weber

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64 Scopus citations


We have studied the deveopment of intermediate filament proteins in the neurons found in hippocampal cell cultures using single and double label immunofluorescence with both monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Neurons in these cultures are known to differentiate in a manner similar to their counterparts in situ: in particular they develop axonal and dendritic processes which differ from each other in form, in ultrastructure, and in synaptic polarity. During the first days in culture, developing neurons could not be stained with anitbodies against any of the neurofilament proteins, although many cells reacted with anti-vimentin. Later in the first week, antibody staining revealed clearly filamentous staining for the L (68 000 daltons) and the M (145 000 daltons) neurofilament subunits, though M reactivity was much stronger at this earlier stage of development. Some neurofilament positieve profiles in many cells could also be stained with vimentin, though the vimentin immunoreactivity became progressively less pronounced during further development, and disappeared after about two weeks in culture. Also at about two weeks in vitro we noted the first appearance of neutrofilament H protein (200 000 daltons) immunoreactivity, which was localized to a subset of long neurites which could be identified on morphological grounds as axons. These processes lacked staining for microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2), a dendritic marker. they tended to be close to islands of glial cells, suggesting that H induction may require complex neuron- glial interactions. These results are consistent with the suggestion that H protein immunoreactivity is a marker for axonal out-growth. In addition to obvious filamentous staining, we were able to localize neurofilament antigens to an interesting class of small ring-like structures, found increasingly frequently as the cultures aged. We also present evidence that tyrosinated α-tubulin is present both within dendrites and axons of neurons in these cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-216
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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