Microglial Watch! - Specific Microglial Marker Should Boost Researcher


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The microglia are all the rage but ensuring that researchers are studying microglia vs other cells in the central nervous system has not been easy. These researchers believe they've found a way to do that.

In this study, we show that Tmem119, a transmembrane protein of unknown function, is a developmentally regulated and highly specific cell-surface marker of most or all microglia that is not expressed by macrophages or other immune or neural cell types

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Mar 22;113(12):E1738-46. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1525528113. Epub 2016 Feb 16.New tools for studying microglia in the mouse and human CNS.Bennett ML1, Bennett FC2, Liddelow SA3, Ajami B4, Zamanian JL5, Fernhoff NB6, Mulinyawe SB5, Bohlen CJ5, Adil A5, Tucker A5, Weissman IL6, Chang EF7, Li G8, Grant GA8, Hayden Gephart MG8, Barres BA1.


The specific function of microglia, the tissue resident macrophages of the brain and spinal cord, has been difficult to ascertain because of a lack of tools to distinguish microglia from other immune cells, thereby limiting specific immunostaining, purification, and manipulation.

Because of their unique developmental origins and predicted functions, the distinction of microglia from other myeloid cells is critically important for understanding brain development and disease; better tools would greatly facilitate studies of microglia function in the developing, adult, and injured CNS.

Here, we identify transmembrane protein 119 (Tmem119), a cell-surface protein of unknown function, as a highly expressedmicroglia-specific marker in both mouse and human. We developed monoclonal antibodies to its intracellular and extracellular domains that enable the immunostaining of microglia in histological sections in healthy and diseased brains, as well as isolation of pure nonactivatedmicroglia by FACS. Using our antibodies, we provide, to our knowledge, the first RNAseq profiles of highly pure mouse microglia during development and after an immune challenge. We used these to demonstrate that mouse microglia mature by the second postnatal week and to predict novel microglial functions.

Together, we anticipate these resources will be valuable for the future study and understanding of microglia in health and disease.

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