NeuN antibodies: important tools for neuroscience

NeuN (neuronal nuclei) antibodies are fundamental tools for staining mature neurons and studying neuronal development and differentiation.

In 1992, Mullen and colleagues generated monoclonal antibodies by immunizing mice with brain cell nuclei1. One of these antibodies recognized a neuron-specific nuclear protein, expressed by most neurons in the central and peripheral nervous system,  that they named NeuN (Neuronal Nuclei)1. In 2009, the identity of NeuN was revealed as the mRNA splicing regulator, Fox-32. To this day, NeuN antibodies remain a core tool for neuroscientists, providing a reliable marker for the detection of mature neurons.​

When and where is NeuN expressed

NeuN is predominantly found in the nucleus of post-mitotic neurons; it first appears at embryonic day 9.5 in the mouse neural tube and corresponds with neuronal cells exiting the cell cycle1. NeuN expression becomes apparent typically after the expression of the immature neuron marker, doublecortin, is downregulated.

NeuN is not expressed by the following cells1,3,4:

  • Cerebellar Purkinje cells
  • Olfactory bulb mitral cells
  • Retina photoreceptor cells
  • Most cells of the inner nuclear layer of the retina
  • Neurons in the dorsal cochlear nucleus
  • Sympathetic chain ganglion neurons
  • Cortical Cajal-Retzius neurons
  • Neurons of the inferior olive and dentate nuclei

What are NeuN antibodies used for?

NeuN antibodies are used to identify mature neurons in cell cultures and tissue sections in applications ranging from immunofluorescence to flow cytometry. They can be used in combination with other cell type markers to study neural networks and neuronal differentiation and development.

NeuN antibodies can also be used in conjunction with proliferation markers such as Ki67 and BrdU to identify neurons that have just exited the cell cycle, thereby allowing the study of adult neurogenesis5.  

Browse our guide to neural markers

Choosing a NeuN antibody

Our  NeuN RabMAb antibody® (ab177487) has many advantages for neuronal staining. Our patented RabMAb technology ensures specificity and reproducibility, whilst the rabbit host eliminates the cross-reactivity and background associated with using mouse monoclonals in mouse tissue. Available in a trial size of 10 µl so you can try it for yourself, risk-free.

Read more about the advantages of our NeuN RabMAb antibody.

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