Antibody Labling of Bovine Neurofilaments: Implications on the Structure of Neurofilament Sidearms

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We carried out immunolabeling studies of purified bovine spinal cord neurofilaments (NFs) and filaments reconstituted from several combinations of the NF triplet polypeptides, NF-H, NF-M, and NF-L. Six antibodies with known epitopes in either the rod domains or the tailpiece extensions of the NF triplet were used in these studies, and the immune complexes were visualized directly by the glycerol-spray, rotary shadowing technique, which permitted unambiguous identification of the NF sidearms. Antibodies directed against the tailpiece extensions of NF-H and NF-M labeled the sidearms of native NFs and reconstituted filaments containing those two polypeptides, but not the backbone of the filaments. Combining these two antibodies in the same labeling experiment resulted in more intense labeling than either of the antibodies alone, indicating that both NF-H and NF-M are capable of forming sidearms. The anti-NF-L tailpiece antibody recognized only a limited number of sites along native NFs, but labeled reconstituted NF-L homopolymers uniformly and heavily. This suggests that the NF-L tailpiece extension is relatively inaccessible in native filaments, but is accessible in reconstituted homopolymers. One possible explanation is that, in native NFs, the NF-H and NF-M-containing sidearms curtailed antibody access to NF-L. A second possibility that is not mutually exclusive with the first is that, when both NF-L and another triplet polypeptide are present, they preferentially form heterodimers such that the NF-L tailpiece epitope becomes hidden. Taken collectively, and in combination with published structural information, our data are consistent with a subunit packing scheme in which an NFL-containing dimer serves as the fundamental building block of most mammalian NFs, such that their sidearms consist of pairs of NF-H/NF-L, NF-M/NF-L, or NFL/NF-L tailpiece extensions

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Journal of Structural Biology





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