Phosphatase and carbocyanine dye binding define different types of phosphate groups in mammalian neurofilaments

H. Ksiezak-Reding, S. H. Yen

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18 Scopus citations


The phosphorylation state of human and bovine spinal cord neurofilaments (NF) was studied by direct phosphate analysis and carbocyanine dye ('Stains-all') binding to NF polypeptides resolved on SDS-polyacrylamide gels. Electrophoretically purified NF-H (200 kDa), NF-M (160 kDa), and NF-L (68 kDa) of human origin contained 24, 18, and 4 mol phosphate/mol protein, whereas bovine NF contained 53, 23, and 5 mol phosphate/mol protein, respectively. Incubation of NF preparations with E. coli alkaline phosphatase removed about 55% of the phosphate from NF-H, about 30% of the phosphate from both human and bovine NF-M, but did not change the phosphate content of NF-L. This treatment also inhibited or substantially reduced the binding of electroblotted NF-H and NF-M to 2 anti-NF monoclonal antibodies known to recognize phosphorylated sites on projection side arms. 'Stains-all' was found to be a very sensitive probe for detection of phosphorylated cytoskeletal proteins. Without the phosphatase treatment, NF and other phosphoproteins, MAP1, MAP2, tubulin, and tau, all bound the carbocyanine dye on SDS gels, forming blue dye-protein complexes. Measured densitometrically at 615 nm, the staining intensity (relative units/mol protein) was 9, 9, and 3 for human and 10, 13, and 6 for bovine NF-H, NF-M, and NF-L, respectively. NF-H bound the dye less efficiently than was expected from its phosphate content. After phosphatase treatment, NF-H, with half of its phosphate residues remaining, no longer formed blue complex with 'Stains-all', the staining intensity of NF-M decreased by 20-40%, and the staining of NF-L was not changed. The results of dye binding, phosphate analysis, and immunostaining showed that there are at least 2 sets of phosphate groups in mammalian NF, which react differently with the phosphatase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3554-3560
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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