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Neuroscience. 2007 Jul 29;147(4):996-1021. Epub 2007 Jul 5.

Spatiotemporal expression pattern of non-clustered protocadherin family members in the developing rat brain.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Division of Brain Korea 21, Biomedical Science, Korea University College of Medicine, Anam-Dong, Sungbuk-Gu, Seoul 136-705, Korea.


Protocadherins (PCDHs) consist of the largest subgroup of the cadherin superfamily, and most PCDHs are expressed dominantly in the CNS. Because PCDHs are involved in the homophilic cell-cell adhesion, PCDHs in the nervous system have been suggested to play roles in the formation and maintenance of the synaptic connections. Although many PCDHs (>50) are in tandem arranged as a cluster in a specific chromosome locus, there are also considerable numbers of non-clustered PCDH members (approximately 20). In this study, we examined the spatiotemporal distribution of mRNAs for 12 non-clustered PCDHs in rat brain using in situ hybridization. Some of them (PCDH1, PCDH7, PCDH9, PCDH10, PCDH11, PCDH17, and PCDH20) exhibited region-dependent expression pattern in the cerebral cortex during the early postnatal stage (P3), which is a critical period for the establishment of specific synaptic connections: PCDH7 and PCDH20 mRNAs were predominantly expressed in the somatosensory (parietal) and visual (occipital) cortices, whereas PCDH11 and PCDH17 mRNAs were preferentially expressed in the motor (forelimb and hindlimb areas) and auditory (temporal) cortices, and PCDH9 mRNA was highly expressed in the motor and main somatosensory cortices. These PCDHs were also expressed in the specific regions of the connecting thalamic nuclei. These cortical regionalization and thalamic nuclei-specificity appeared to be most distinct in P3 compared with those of embryonic and adult stages. Taken together, these results suggest that PCDHs may play specific roles in the establishment of selective synaptic connections of specific modality of cerebral cortex with other communicating brain regions such as the thalamus.

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