European journal of cell biology

The immunological relatedness of neurofilament proteins of higher vertebrates.

PMID 6203748


We prepared intermediate filaments from the nervous system of several different species, representing mammals, birds and reptiles. These were examined using a panel of polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies originally raised against pig or rat neurofilament proteins. All species studied possessed a single major protein of apparent molecular weight between 68 K and 75 K immunologically related to the lowest molecular weight rat and pig neurofilament protein. All birds and mammals possessed two proteins immunologically related respectively to the pig and rat middle and high molecular weight neurofilament proteins. These data show that the neurofilament triplet proteins represent an evolutionarily conserved three member protein family in birds and mammals, and allow us to suggest a new nomenclature for these three homologous proteins: "H" for the heaviest subunit, "M" for the middle subunit and "L" for the lightest subunit. We found that many monoclonal antibodies stained both the H- and M-proteins of all mammalian and avian species examined, suggesting a close immunological relatedness between these two proteins. The reptiles examined appeared to have only one high molecular weight protein, which was immunologically related to both of the high molecular weight mammalian and avian neurofilament proteins. We also noted a curious situation in neurofilament preparations derived from cows. Both the highest and the middle cow neurofilament proteins were stained by all antibodies which were specific solely for the high molecular weight protein in other species.