The presence of the intermediate filament protein nestin has been the predominant marker used to describe stem and progenitor cells in the mammalian CNS. In this study, a 998-bp fragment in the 3' region of the nestin mRNA was cloned from human fetal brain cells (HFBC). The nucleotide sequence of the cloned cDNA revealed 21 differences with the previously published human nestin sequence, resulting in 17 amino acid changes. A 150-amino-acid fragment derived from the cloned nestin cDNA was coupled to glutathione S-transferase and used as an immunogen to generate a rabbit polyclonal antiserum that selectively detects human nestin. HFBC that proliferated in response to basic fibroblast growth factor incorporated 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine into their nuclei and immunostained for nestin, indicating nestin expression in proliferating CNS progenitor cells. In all cell cultures, nestin costained with the neuroepithelial cell marker vimentin. A small subset of nestin-stained cells (1-2%) immunostained with neuronal marker MAP-2 during the first week and after 4 weeks in culture. However, during the first week in culture, approximately 10-30% of the total cell population of HFBC stained for the glial cell marker GFAP, and nearly all coimmunostained for nestin. After 4 weeks in culture, a subset of GFAP-positive cells emerged that no longer costained with nestin. These results describe nestin expression not only in CNS progenitor cells but also in the cells which were in transition from a progenitor stage to glial differentiation. Collectively, these data suggest a differential temporal regulation of nestin expression during glial and neuronal cell differentiation.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.