To identify proteins involved in the early development of the mammalian cerebral cortex, we previously used two‐dimensional gels to compare proteins synthesized at different stages in corticogenesis in the embryonic rat at embryonic day 14 (E14), E17, and E21. During this period, the cortex develops from a morphologically homogeneous population of proliferative precursor cells into a complex structure containing a diverse array of terminally differentiated neurons. Several proteins are up‐regulated coincident with the generation of postmitotic neurons. Here we describe the purification, partial amino acid sequencing, and characterization of one of these proteins, TOAD‐64 (Turned On After Division; 64 kDa), using polyclonal antisera to two synthetic peptides from the protein. This analysis reveals that TOAD‐64 is a 64,000 Da protein that increases in abundance over the period of corticogenesis and then subsequently decreases to very low levels in the adult. The protein is neural specific and is expressed by postmitotic neurons as they begin their migration out of the ventricular zone into the developing cortical plate. It is expressed in advance of most other neuronal proteins. Progenitor cells do not express TOAD‐64. Therefore, this protein is a marker for postmitotic cells that have made a commitment to a neuronal phenotype. The extremely early expression, the relative abundance in newly born neurons, as well as the restriction in expression to the period of initial neuronal differentiation suggest that TOAD‐64 may be a key structural protein for early neuronal function.
- CNS development
- developmental regulation