Watery and dark axons in Wallerian degeneration of the opossum's optic nerve: different patterns of cytoskeletal breakdown?
Alterations occurring in nerve proteins of transected nerves were studied in rat sciatic nerves using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to identify and monitor neurofilament (NF) epitopes among nerve proteins following their electrophoresis and transfer to nitrocellulose paper. Immunoblot methods identified NF epitopes in NF triplet proteins (Mr 200,000, 150,000, and 68,000) and in NF nontriplet proteins (all other immunobands below Mr 200,000 and above Mr 40,000). NF triplet and nontriplet proteins were Triton-insoluble in both untransected and transected nerves. Extensive loss of NF triplet and most nontriplet proteins occurred during the 24-48-h period following nerve transection and was attributed to proteolytic degradation. Loss of protease-labile NF proteins led to a markedly reduced level of NF immunoreactivity in 2-day transected nerve. NF proteins which survived the 2-day posttransectional period were considered to represent protease-stable NF fragments. These fragments persisted in transected nerve for periods of at least 35 days. Most protease-stable NF fragments which retained immunoreactivity had Mr of 57,000-65,000. Low concentrations of the same immunobands were present in untransected nerves.