Deleting the phosphorylated tail domain of the neurofilament heavy subunit does not alter neurofilament transport rate in vivo

Neurosci Lett. 2006 Jan 30;393(2-3):264-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2005.10.029. Epub 2005 Nov 2.


Phosphorylation of the carboxyl tail domains of the neurofilament heavy (NF-H) and middle molecular weight (NF-M) subunits has been proposed to regulate the axonal transport of neurofilaments. To test this hypothesis, we recently constructed mice lacking the extensively phosphorylated NF-H tail domain (NF-HtailDelta) and showed that the transport rate of neurofilaments in optic axons is unaltered in the absence of this domain [M.V. Rao, M.L. Garcia, Y. Miyazaki, T. Gotow, A. Yuan, S. Mattina, C.M. Ward, N.A. Calcutt, Y. Uchiyama, R.A. Nixon, D.W. Cleveland, Gene replacement in mice reveals that the heavily phosphorylated tail of neurofilament heavy subunit does not affect axonal caliber or the transit of cargoes in slow axonal transport, J. Cell Biol. 158 (2002) 681-693]. However, Shea et al. proposed that deletion of NF-H carboxyl-terminal region accelerates the transport of a subpopulation of neurofilaments based on minor differences between tail-deleted and control mice in our axonal transport analysis. Here, we present additional evidence that neurofilament transport rate is unchanged after deleting the phosphorylated NF-H tail domain, establishing unequivocally that the NF-H tail domain alone does not regulate the rate of neurofilament transport in optic axons in vivo. Possible roles for tail domains as cross-bridges between a neurofilament and its neighbors or other cytoskeletal elements is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / genetics
  • Axonal Transport / physiology*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurofilament Proteins / chemistry
  • Neurofilament Proteins / genetics
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism
  • Sulfur Isotopes / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • Sulfur Isotopes
  • neurofilament protein H
  • Methionine