Novel Insights into NeuN: from Neuronal Marker to Splicing Regulator.

Academic Article


  • Neuronal nuclei (NeuN) is a well-recognized "marker" that is detected exclusively in post-mitotic neurons and was initially identified through an immunological screen to produce neuron-specific antibodies. Immunostaining evidence indicates that NeuN is distributed in the nuclei of mature neurons in nearly all parts of the vertebrate nervous system. NeuN is highly conserved among species and is stably expressed during specific stages of development. Therefore, NeuN has been considered to be a reliable marker of mature neurons for the past two decades. However, this role has been challenged by recent studies indicating that NeuN staining is variable and even absent during certain diseases and specific physiological states. More importantly, despite the widespread use of the anti-NeuN antibody, the natural identity of the NeuN protein remained elusive for 17 years. NeuN was recently eventually identified as an epitope of Rbfox3, which is a novel member of the Rbfox1 family of splicing factors. This identification might provide a novel perspective on NeuN expression during both physiological and pathological conditions. This review summarizes the current progress on the biochemical identity and biological significance of NeuN and recommends caution when applying NeuN immunoreactivity as a definitive marker of mature neurons in certain diseases and specific physiological states.
  • Authors

    Published In


  • Mature neurons, NeuN, Neuronal marker, Rbfox3, Splicing regulator, Alternative Splicing, Animals, Antigens, Nuclear, Axotomy, Biomarkers, Cell Nucleus, Cells, Cultured, Cytoplasm, Epitopes, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Nervous System Diseases, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neurons, RNA Splicing Factors, Stress, Physiological, Vertebrates
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 27516235
  • Author List

  • Duan W; Zhang Y-P; Hou Z; Huang C; Zhu H; Zhang C-Q; Yin Q
  • Start Page

  • 1637
  • End Page

  • 1647
  • Volume

  • 53
  • Issue

  • 3