Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Dynamic expression of synemin isoforms in mouse embryonic stem cells and neural derivatives

Sheila C de Souza Martins12, Onnik Agbulut3, Nicolas Diguet1, Jean-Christophe Larcher4, Bruna S Paulsen2, Stevens K Rehen2, Vivaldo Moura-Neto2, Denise Paulin1, Zhenlin Li1 and Zhigang Xue1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Aging, Stress and Inflammation, UPMC Sorbonne University, Paris, France

2 Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

3 Department of Functional and Adaptive Biology, Paris Diderot University, Paris, France

4 Department of Developmental Biology, UPMC Sorbonne University, UMR 7622 CNRS, Paris, France

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BMC Cell Biology 2011, 12:51  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-12-51

Published: 23 November 2011



Intermediate filaments (IFs) are major components of the mammalian cytoskeleton and expressed in cell-type-specific patterns. Morphological changes during cell differentiation are linked to IF network remodeling. However, little is known concerning the presence and the role of IFs in embryonic stem (ES) cells and during their differentiation.


We have examined the expression profile of synemin isoforms in mouse pluripotent ES cells and during their neural differentiation induced by retinoic acid. Using RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunostaining, we show that synemin M is present at both mRNA and protein levels in undifferentiated ES cells as early as pluripotency factor Oct-3/4 and IF keratin 8. Synemin H was produced only in neural precursors when neural differentiation started, concurrently with synemin M, nestin and glial fibrillary acidic protein. However, both synemin H and M were restricted to the progenitor line during the neural differentiation program. Our in vivo analysis also confirmed the expression of synemins H/M in multipotent neural stem cells in the subventricular zone of the adult brain, a neurogenic germinal niche of the mice. Knocking down synemin in ES cells by shRNA lentiviral particles transduction has no influence on expression of Oct4, Nanog and SOX2, but decreased keratin 8 expression.


Our study shows a developmental stage specific regulation of synemin isoforms in ES cells and its neural derivatives. These findings represent the first evidence that synemins could potentially be useful markers for distinguishing multipotent ES cells from undifferentiated neural stem cells and more committed progenitor cells.