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J Neurosci Res. 1990 Jan;25(1):39-49.

Simultaneous up-regulation of neurofilament proteins during the postnatal development of the rat nervous system.

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Division of Neuropathology, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Philadelphia.


The expression of neurofilament (NF) proteins was examined during postnatal development of the rat nervous system in order to elucidate the nature of NF expression during the period of transition from the embryonic (immature) to the adult (mature) stages of NF expression. mRNAs to the light (NF-L), mid-sized (NF-M), and heavy (NF-H) NF proteins were compared by Northern blots and by in situ hybridizations, in NF-rich (i.e., DRG, spinal cord and brainstem) and in NF-poor (i.e., cerebellum and cerebral cortex) regions of the developing rat nervous system. NF proteins were analyzed by gel electrophoresis and by immunoblots. In each tissue, the expression of NF-H was delayed compared to that of NF-L and NF-M, as previously reported. The present study now shows that the delayed expression of NF-H is accompanied by parallel up-regulations in the expressions of NF-L and NF-M, both at the levels of mRNA and protein. Similar rates of increase of all three NF mRNAs occur between postnatal days 5 (P5) and 24 (P24) in rat spinal cord and DRG. Furthermore, the postnatal up-regulation of NF expression is characterized by a progressive accumulation of all three NF proteins in the tissues. The findings indicate that the adult pattern of NF expression (with high levels of expression of all three NF proteins) becomes established during the postnatal period of development, raising questions as to the nature of factors that coregulate the expression of NF subunits.

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