At least 2 distinct spectrin subtypes, brain spectrin(240/235) and brain spectrin (240/235E), are contained in the mammalian brain. Evidence that these subtypes are differentially expressed during mouse brain development is reviewed. Brain spectrin(240/235) is detected in fetal brain tissues, and increases 2-fold to adult levels. This subtype is enriched in the cortical cytoplasm of germinative neural cells, and is also associated with fibers resembling axons in the fetus. Brain spectrin(240/235E), a brain subtype specifically detected with antibodies to red blood cell spectrin, is below the limits of detection in the fetal and neonatal brain but rapidly increases in concentration during the second postnatal week. Brain spectrin(240/235E) is found in the cell body and dendrites of differentiating neurons and glial cells, but is not expressed in mitotic cells. This subtype is especially prominent in granule cells of the cerebellum and dentate gyrus. The potential function of these spectrin subtypes during neuro-ontogeny is discussed.
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