The neurofilament antibody RT97 recognises a developmentally regulated phosphorylation epitope on microtubule-associated protein 1B

M Johnstone, R G Goold, I Fischer, P R Gordon-Weeks

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Microtubules are important for the growth and maintenance of stable neuronal processes and their organisation is controlled partly by microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). MAP 1B is the first MAP to be expressed in neurons and plays an important role in neurite outgrowth. MAP 1B is phosphorylated at multiple sites and it is believed that the function of the protein is regulated by its phosphorylation state. We have shown that the monoclonal antibody (mAb) RT97, which recognises phosphorylated epitopes on neurofilament proteins, fetal tau, and on Alzheimer's paired helical filament-tau, also recognises a developmentally regulated phosphorylation epitope on MAP 1B. In the rat cerebellum, Western blot analysis shows that mAb RT97 recognises the upper band of the MAP 1B doublet and that the amount of this epitope peaks very early postnatally and decreases with increasing age so that it is absent in the adult, despite the continued expression of MAP 1B in the adult. We confirmed that mAb RT97 binds to MAP 1B by showing that it recognises MAP 1B immunoprecipitated from postnatal rat cerebellum using polyclonal antibodies to recombinant MAP 1B proteins. We established that the RT97 epitope on MAP 1B is phosphorylated by showing that antibody binding was abolished by alkaline phosphatase treatment of immunoblots. Epitope mapping experiments suggest that the mAb RT97 site on MAP 1B is near the N-terminus of the molecule. Despite our immunoblotting data, immunostaining of sections of postnatal rat cerebellum with mAb RT97 shows a staining pattern typical of neurofilaments with no apparent staining of MAP 1B. For instance, basket cell axons and axons in the granule cell layer and white matter stained, whereas parallel fibres did not. These results suggest that the MAP 1B epitope is masked or lost under the immunocytochemical conditions in which the cerebellar sections are prepared. The upper band of the MAP 1B doublet is believed to be predominantly phosphorylated by proline-directed protein kinases (PDPKs). PDPKs are also good candidates for phosphorylating neurofilament proteins and tau and therefore we postulate that the sites recognised by RT97 on these neuronal cytoskeletal proteins may be phosphorylated by similar kinases. Important goals are to determine the precise location of the RT97 epitope on MAP 1B and the kinase responsible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-44
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Volume191 ( Pt 2)
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1997


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Axons
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cerebellum
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Immunoblotting
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Phosphorylation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


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