Regulation of Type III Intermediate Filament Protein Genes in Astrocytes during Development and after Injury

  • Monica M. Oblinger
  • Susanne A. Kost
  • Leelabai D. Singh
Part of the Altschul Symposia Series book series (ALSS, volume 2)


Intermediate filaments (IFs) represent the major proportion of the cytoskeletal framework in astrocytes, as well as in most other eukaryotic cells, and thus, the regulation of IF gene expression is central in determining important aspects of astrocyte form and function. Of interest are the significant transitions in IF expression that occur in astrocytes during development and in pathological conditions. These transitions have been the focus of extensive study and it is widely understood that, while mature astrocytes have an IF cytoskeleton dominated by glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), astrocytes at earlier developmental stages elaborate a vimentin-dominated IF cytoskeleton. When astrocytes become reactive after a traumatizing injury to the CNS they substantially upregulate expression of both GFAP and vimentin, an event which spawns dramatic morphological changes in the reactive astrocytes. Such transformations of the IF cytoskeleton in astrocytes are the result of complex interactions between environmental and genomic factors that are only beginning to be explored. The present paper will review some recent information concerning IF expression in astrocytes and its regulation and also consider the functional consequences of transitions between vimentin vs. GFAP-dominated cytoskeletal structure in developing and reactive astrocytes. Since a number of excellent and comprehensive reviews about GFAP in mature as well as in reactive astrocytes exist (Chiu and Goldman, 1985; Eng, 1985; Eng, 1988; Eng and Shiurba, 1988; Reier, et al., 1989), the present paper aims only to supplement information extant in this broad field.


Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Corticospinal Tract Reactive Astrocyte Wallerian Degeneration Reactive Astrogliosis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica M. Oblinger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susanne A. Kost
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leelabai D. Singh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology and AnatomyUniversity of Health SciencesUSA
  2. 2.The Chicago Medical SchoolNorth ChicagoUSA

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