GAP-43 gene expression during development: persistence in a distinctive set of neurons in the mature central nervous system

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1989 Apr 1;46(2):161-8. doi: 10.1016/0165-3806(89)90279-4.


GAP-43 is a rapidly transported axonal protein most prominently expressed in regenerating and developing nerves. However, the low level persistence of GAP-43 in the adult CNS where growth and regenerative capacity are minimal may additionally indicate a role for this molecule in neuronal remodeling. Previous studies have revealed GAP-43 immunoreactivity in neurites throughout many regions of the CNS. To identify the CNS neurons that express GAP-43 at different stages of development, we utilized in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry; the latter was performed with an antibody that recognizes GAP-43 immunoreactivity in both perikarya and neurites. In the perinatal period GAP-43 is expressed in all neurons. Subsequently its expression becomes progressively restricted such that by maturity most neurons no longer express detectable levels, although GAP-43 expression is still moderately high in the adult entorhinal cortex, and strikingly high in the adult hippocampus and olfactory bulb. In light of current notions about the function of GAP-43, it is tempting to speculate that this anatomy denotes neurons engaged in structural remodeling and functional plasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • GAP-43 Protein
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Rats
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*


  • GAP-43 Protein
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins