Neurons are replenished in cultures of embryonic chick optic tectum after immunomagnetic depletion

Dev Biol. 1991 Aug;146(2):278-91. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(91)90230-z.


The effect of intercellular interactions on the determination and differentiation of early embryonic brain cells was tested by immunomagnetic cell separation techniques. Using the A2B5 monoclonal antibody, which in chick brain reacts with a neuron-specific surface ganglioside, we produced initially pure populations of optic tectum cells devoid of the antigen. A coincident depletion of neurofilament(+) cells (95%) and nonneuronal growth characteristics of the separated A2B5(-) cells indicated that the vast majority of neurons had been removed initially. Surprisingly, A2B5(+) cells rapidly appeared in separated A2B5(-) cell cultures. After 1 day, the percentage of A2B5(+) cells in separated cell cultures equalled those in unseparated cultures (approximately 50%). By a week in culture, A2B5(+) cells developed neuronal morphology and contained neurofilaments. A2B5(-) to (+) conversion was a regulated phenomenon in that removal of different proportions of the (+) cells resulted in different numbers of (-) to (+) conversions. New DNA synthesis was not required for the acquisition of cell surface A2B5 antigen or for differentiation of cells into definitive A2B5(+) neurons. Our results demonstrate that postmitotic embryonic brain contains cells which are capable of replacing depleted neurons in vitro.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo / cytology*
  • Chick Embryo / physiology
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Gangliosides / immunology
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / immunology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / immunology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / immunology
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology
  • Superior Colliculi / embryology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Gangliosides
  • ganglioside A2B5
  • DNA