Antibodies to neurofilament, glial filament, and fibroblast intermediate filament proteins bind to different cell types of the nervous system

S. H. Yen, K. L. Fields

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322 Scopus citations


Antisera were raised to the 210,000-dalton and the 49,000-dalton proteins of a fraction enriched in intermediate (10 nm) filaments from human brain. Proteins of the filament preparation were separated by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and used for immunization and subsequent analysis of the reactions of the sera by rocket immunoelectrophoresis. Anti-210,000-dalton serum precipitated proteins of molecular weights 210,000, 160,000, and 68,000, and, thus, reacted with all the neurofilament triplet components. Anti-49,000-dalton serum did not react with the triplet proteins but precipitated the 49,000-dalton protein. By immunofluorescence on tissue sections, anti-210,000-dalton serum bound to neuronal axons in sciatic nerve and cerebellum. In dissociated cell cultures, rat dorsal root ganglion cells and their processes bound the serum, whereas nonneuronal cells did not. Some cultured cerebellar neurons were also positive, whereas astrocytes were not. At the ultrastructural level, anti-210,000-dalton serum bound to intermediate filaments inside axonal processes. Anti-49,000-dalton serum bound to astrocytes in sections of the cerebellum, and cultured astrocytes had filaments that stained, whereas other cell types did not. In sciatic nerve sections, elements stained with this serum, but cultured cells from newborn sciatic nerve were negative. An antiserum against the 58,000-dalton protein of the cytoskeleton of NIL-8 fibroblasts strongly stained sciatic nerve sections, binding to Schwann cells but not to axons or to myelin. In cerebellar sections, astrocytes were positive, as were blood vessels and cells in the pia. In cell cultures, anti-58,000-dalton serum stained filaments inside Schwann cells, fibroblasts, and astrocytes, but neurons were negative. Cells in the cultures and tissue sections of the nervous system failed to react with antiserum to the 58,000-dalton protein of skin intermediate filaments. In these studies, astrocytes in vivo and in culture were the only cells which had antigens related to two classes of intermediate filaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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