The NeuN protein is localized in nuclei and perinuclear cytoplasm of most of the neurons in the central nervous system of mammals. Monoclonal antibodies to the NeuN protein have been actively used in the immunohistochemical research of neuronal differentiation to assess the functional state of neurons in norm and pathology for more than 20 years. Recently, NeuN antibodies have begun to be applied in the differential morphological diagnosis of cancer. However, the structure of the protein, which can be revealed by antibodies to NeuN, remained unknown until recently, and the functions of the protein are still not fully clear. In the present mini-review, data on NeuN accumulated so far are summarized and analyzed. Data on the structure and properties of the protein, its isoforms, intracellular localization, and hypothesized functions are reported. The application field of immunocytochemical detection of NeuN in scientific and clinical studies, as well as the difficulties in the interpretation of the obtained experimental data and their possible causes, is described in details.
Keywords: NeuN nuclear protein; neuron specific marker; neurons.