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Dev Biol. 1987 Jan;119(1):217-30.

Expression of cell adhesion molecules during embryonic induction. III. Development of the otic placode.


During embryonic development, the inner ear develops from a placode into a richly differentiated structure with defined borders between neural and non-neural elements. In an effort to define the origin of such differentiation boundaries from the time of appearance of the placode, immunocytochemical methods have been used to map the developmental distributions of the cell adhesion molecules, N-CAM, L-CAM, and Ng-CAM, and the extracellular matrix molecules, cytotactin and fibronectin, in the cochlea of the chicken embryo. As the otic placode was induced by the underlying N-CAM-containing rhombencephalon and mesoderm, the placode expressed both N-CAM and L-CAM. During the period when the otic vesicle differentiated to give rise to the acoustic ganglion and to the differentiated structures of the cochlea, N-CAM increased in the innervated sensory regions while L-CAM increased in the non-sensory areas of the auditory epithelium adjacent to the sensory regions. During subsequent development, the differential expression of N-CAM and L-CAM again formed striking borders within the epithelium between the five morphologically and functionally distinct regions of the cochlea. This pattern of CAM expression is consistent with previous observations suggesting that primary CAMs of different binding specificities are expressed in two different modes to form borders at all sites of embryonic induction and at sites of further cytodifferentiation (K. L. Crossin, C -M. Chuong, and G. M. Edelman, 1985, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 82, 6942-6946). Unlike inductive sites involving mesenchyme, however, the placode showed only changes in which an epithelium containing both CAMs loses one or the other or remains unchanged. As differentiation occurred during innervation of the sensory region, the secondary Ng-CAM appeared. Ng-CAM-positive fibers penetrated into the basilar papilla and Ng-CAM and the matrix protein cytotactin appeared within the epithelium in a radial pattern that was consistent with the previously described roles of these molecules in neurite movement. Immunoblot analyses confirmed the identity and biochemical properties of the CAMs and also revealed that N-CAM underwent embryonic to adult conversion during inner ear formation. These studies support the idea that CAMs are expressed in specific modal patterns in the cell collectives participating in inductive events, and strongly suggest that cellular regulation of these patterns is correlated with border formation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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