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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1989 Apr 1;46(2):161-8.

GAP-43 gene expression during development: persistence in a distinctive set of neurons in the mature central nervous system.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston 02114.


GAP-43 is a rapidly transported axonal protein most prominently expressed in regenerating and developing nerves. However, the low level persistence of GAP-43 in the adult CNS where growth and regenerative capacity are minimal may additionally indicate a role for this molecule in neuronal remodeling. Previous studies have revealed GAP-43 immunoreactivity in neurites throughout many regions of the CNS. To identify the CNS neurons that express GAP-43 at different stages of development, we utilized in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry; the latter was performed with an antibody that recognizes GAP-43 immunoreactivity in both perikarya and neurites. In the perinatal period GAP-43 is expressed in all neurons. Subsequently its expression becomes progressively restricted such that by maturity most neurons no longer express detectable levels, although GAP-43 expression is still moderately high in the adult entorhinal cortex, and strikingly high in the adult hippocampus and olfactory bulb. In light of current notions about the function of GAP-43, it is tempting to speculate that this anatomy denotes neurons engaged in structural remodeling and functional plasticity.

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