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J Neurosci. 1999 Jun 15;19(12):4907-20.

Abnormalities in neuronal process extension, hippocampal development, and the ventricular system of L1 knockout mice.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7260, USA.


In humans, mutations in the L1 cell adhesion molecule are associated with a neurological syndrome termed CRASH, which includes corpus callosum agenesis, mental retardation, adducted thumbs, spasticity, and hydrocephalus. A mouse model with a null mutation in the L1 gene (Cohen et al., 1997) was analyzed for brain abnormalities by Nissl and Golgi staining and immunocytochemistry. In the motor, somatosensory, and visual cortex, many pyramidal neurons in layer V exhibited undulating apical dendrites that did not reach layer I. The hippocampus of L1 mutant mice was smaller than normal, with fewer pyramidal and granule cells. The corpus callosum of L1-minus mice was reduced in size because of the failure of many callosal axons to cross the midline. Enlarged ventricles and septal abnormalities were also features of the mutant mouse brain. Immunoperoxidase staining showed that L1 was abundant in developing neurons at embryonic day 18 (E18) in wild-type cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and corpus callosum and then declined to low levels with maturation. In the E18 cortex, L1 colocalized with microtubule-associated protein 2, a marker of dendrites and somata. These new findings suggest new roles for L1 in the mechanism of cortical dendrite differentiation, as well as in guidance of callosal axons and regulation of hippocampal development. The phenotype of the L1 mutant mouse indicates that it is a potentially valuable model for the human CRASH syndrome.

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