Nestin is a class IV intermediate filament (IF) protein of approximately 240 kD. Nestin interacts with other IF proteins including vimentin, desmin and internexin to form heterodimers and mixed polymers. Nestin is expressed in a variety of neural stem and progenitor cells, and in early stages of development in the central nervous system (CNS). Upon differentiation, and during neuro- and gliogenesis, nestin is replaced by cell type-specific intermediate filaments such as neurofilaments and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Nestin distribution and expression pattern in proliferating cells suggests that it participates in structural organization of the cell by regulating the assembly and disassembly of intermediate filaments. The function of nestin itself is highly regulated by phosphorylation. Nestin expression is induced in adults under pathological conditions such as glial scar formation after CNS injury. Antibodies against nestin can be used as a predominant marker to describe stem and neural progenitor cells in the mammalian CNS.
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