An Antibody against Hyperphosphorylated Neurofilament Proteins Collapses the Neurofilament Network in Motor Neurons but not in Dorsal Root Ganglion Cells

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Abstract.The carboxyl-terminal region of both the medium and high molecular weight neurofilament proteins contains repeated sequences that are sites for phosphorylation. The monoclonal antibody SMI31 specifically recognizes the conformation of these multiphosphorylated domains in an intermediate state of phosphorylation. Microinjection of SMI31 into living spinal motor neurons in culture resulted in a gradual collapse of the arrays of neurofilaments in perikarya and dendrites. In some cells, antibody-decorated filaments penetrated the axon and accumulated in proximal axonal segments causing their swelling. In dorsal root ganglion neurons, microinjected SMI31 bound to neurofilaments but did not induce collapse of the network or proximal axonal swelling. This study supports a role for phosphorylation of neurofilament sidearms in control of neurofilament transport and illustrates that interference with these sites has different consequences on neurofilament organization and morphology in different cell types.

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