To differentiate subtypes of microglia (MG), we developed a novel monoclonal antibody, 9F5, against one subtype (type 1) of rat primary MG. The 9F5 showed high selectivity for this cell type in Western blot and immunocytochemical analyses and no cross-reaction with rat peritoneal macrophages (Mφ). We identified the antigen molecule for 9F5: the 50- to 70-kDa fragments of rat glycoprotein nonmetastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB)/osteoactivin, which started at Lys170. In addition, 9F5 immunoreactivity with GPNMB depended on the activity of furin-like protease(s). More important, rat type 1 MG expressed the GPNMB fragments, but type 2 MG and Mφ did not, although all these cells expressed mRNA and the full-length protein for GPNMB. These results suggest that 9F5 reactivity with MG depends greatly on cleavage of GPNMB and that type 1 MG, in contrast to type 2 MG and Mφ, may have furin-like protease(s) for GPNMB cleavage. In neonatal rat brain, amoeboid 9F5+ MG were observed in specific brain areas including forebrain subventricular zone, corpus callosum, and retina. Double-immunοstaining with 9F5 antibody and anti-Iba1 antibody, which reacts with MG throughout the CNS, revealed that 9F5+ MG were a portion of Iba1+ MG, suggesting that MG subtype(s) exist in vivo. We propose that 9F5 is a useful tool to discriminate between rat type 1 MG and other subtypes of MG/Mφ and to reveal the role of the GPNMB fragments during developing brain. GLIA 2016;64:1938–1961.
- microglial heterogeneity
- retinal pigment epithelium
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience