Neuronal intermediate filaments

Annu Rev Neurosci. 1996;19:187-217. doi: 10.1146/


Neurofilaments (NFs) are the most abundant structural components in large-diameter myelinated axons. Assembled as obligate heteropolymers requiring NF-L and substoichiometric amounts of NF-M and/or NF-H, NF investment into axons is essential for establishment of axonal caliber, itself a key determinant of conduction velocity. Use of transgenic mice to increase axonal accumulation of NFs or to express mutant NFs subunits has proven that aberrant organization or assembly of NFs is sufficient to cause disease arising from selective dysfunction and degeneration of motor neurons. Because aberrant accumulation of NFs is a common pathology in a series of motor neuron diseases-including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-NF misaccumulation, and the resultant disruption in axonal transport, is probably a key intermediate in the pathogenesis of these diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Axons / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments / physiology*
  • Intermediate Filaments / ultrastructure
  • Invertebrates
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurofilament Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neurofilament Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Vertebrates


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • neurofilament protein L
  • neurofilament protein H