Microtubule-associated proteins characteristic of embryonic brain are found in the adult mammalian retina

Richard P Tucker, A. I. Matus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


We have used monoclonal antibodies against each of the major mammalian brain microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), MAP1, MAP2, MAP3, MAP5, and tau, to study the timing of appearance and the cytological distribution of these proteins during the development of the rat retina. Western blots of adult rat retina reveal MAPs that are characteristic of embryonic brain, i.e., MAP5 and the low-molecular-weight forms of MAP2 (MAP2c) and tau (juvenile tau). At the onset of neuronal differentiation within the embryonic retina, MAP5, MAP3, MAP2c, and tau are found in the perikarya or extending axons of ganglion cells. High-molecular-weight MAP2, a dendrite marker, does not appear in the retina until the second day of postnatal development, when ganglion cell dendrites ramify within the inner plexiform layer. MAP1, which is characteristic of adult brain, does not appear in the retina until 1 week after birth, and is limited to ganglion cells and their processes. In the adult retina, MAP5 and MAP2c are concentrated within the inner segments and cell bodies of photosensitive cells, whereas tau is found in horizontal cells and more internal cell layers. Since photosensitive cells are unique among retinal neurons in their constant regeneration of their primary processes, the photoreceptive outer segments, both MAP5 and MAP2c appear not only to be involved in events associated with the embryonic differentiation and growth of neurites, but also in process regeneration in adult neurons that maintain some embryonic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-434
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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