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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Aug 15;4:e768. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.284.

Loss of cell adhesion molecule CHL1 improves homeostatic adaptation and survival in hypoxic stress.

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  • 1Department of Cognitive Sciences, Beijing Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing 100850, China.


Close homologue of L1 (CHL1) is a transmembrane cell adhesion molecule that is critical for brain development and for the maintenance of neural circuits in adults. Recent studies revealed that CHL1 has diverse roles and is involved in the regulation of recovery after spinal cord injury. CHL1 expression was downregulated in the cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, and brain stem after the induction of acute hypoxia (AH). In the current study, we sought to address the role of CHL1 in regulating homeostasis responses to hypoxia using CHL1-knockout (CHL1(-/-)) mice. We found that, compared with wild-type littermates, CHL1(-/-) mice showed a dramatically lower mortality rate and an augmented ventilatory response after they were subjected to AH. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that CHL1 was expressed in the carotid body (CB), the key oxygen sensor in rodents, and CHL1 expression level in the CB as assayed by western blot was decreased after hypoxic exposure. The number of glomus cells and the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (a marker for glomus cells) in the CB of CHL1(-/-) mice appeared to be increased compared with CHL1(+/+) mice. In addition, in the ex vivo CB preparation, hypoxia induced a significantly greater afferent nerve discharge in CHL1(-/-) mice compared with CHL1(+/+) mice. Furthermore, the arterial blood pressure and plasma catecholamine levels of CHL1(-/-) mice were also significantly higher than those of CHL1(+/+) mice. Our findings first demonstrate that CHL1 is a novel intrinsic factor that is involved in CB function and in the ventilatory response to AH.

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