Background: Stathmin is a phylogenetically conserved protein which was identified initially as a prominent cytosolic protein in hemopoietic cells, endocrine cells, brain, and testis. In these tissues, it has been suggested that the level of stathmin expression is important in development and cell proliferation. Furthermore, stathmin phosphorylation appears to be involved in the regulation of cell growth arrest, terminal differentiation, and hormone secretion. Elevated levels of expression of stathmin have been described in leukemia and lymphoma cells. The aim of this study was to characterize the distribution of cells that express the stathmin protein in a wide variety of normal human and rodent tissues.
Experimental design: First, antisera against a synthetic stathmin peptide have been raised in rabbits and the specificity of these antisera confirmed by their reactivity with stathmin on 1-dimensional and 2-dimensional Western blots. Second, the most appropriate means of fixing tissues in order to stain stathmin has been investigated. Finally, using the optimized conditions of tissue fixation, the antisera have been used to immunostain sections taken from a wide variety of tissues.
Results: Immunopositivity was found in cells of all the lineages studied, with the stained cells present within the proliferating compartment of tissues. Conversely, most nonproliferating mature cells did not stain with the antisera to stathmin. The only nonproliferating cells that appeared to express stathmin were a subpopulation of glial cells, neurons, and anterior pituitary cells.
Conclusions: It is proposed that stathmin is necessary for cell proliferation in most, or all, cell lineages and that its primary function relates to some aspect of cell division.