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J Neurobiol. 1999 Feb 15;38(3):428-39.

Prevention of neuronal cell death by neural adhesion molecules L1 and CHL1.

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Department of Neurobiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Hönggerberg, Zürich.


The effects of L1-Fc and CHL1-Fc fusion proteins on neuronal survival were investigated. Cerebellar granule neurons of mouse and hippocampal neurons of rat embryo undergo apoptosis when cultured in serum-free medium. Treatment with chimeric proteins containing the extracellular domains of the neural adhesion molecules L1 or CHL1 fused to the Fc region of human immunoglobulin significantly enhanced the survival of neurons. Compared to the control, the percentage of surviving neurons increased about 60% and 45% with L1 and CHL1 fusion proteins, respectively. A fusion protein containing the extracellular domain of NCAM had no effect on survival. The L1 and CHL1 fusion proteins were effective both in soluble form or when offered as a substrate, with the maximal effect at about 1 microg/mL. To explore the intracellular events related to the neuronal survival effects of L1-Fc fusion protein, Bcl-2 and c-Jun expression were analyzed by Western blotting. The level of Bcl-2 in cerebellar granule neurons was increased by treatment with L1-Fc at both 1 and 5 days of culture. The level of c-Jun was not significantly affected at the early time point and was reduced by L1-Fc fusion protein after long-term culture. The results demonstrate that the neural adhesion molecule L1 and its relative CHL1 are potential neuronal survival factors for neurons of the central nervous system. Bcl-2 may serve as one of the intracellular mediators of the neuronal survival effects of L1.

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