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J Neurocytol. 1999 Oct-Nov;28(10-11):955-68.

A temporospatial map of adhesive molecules in the organ of Corti of the mouse cochlea.

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  • 1Audiology and Hearing Sciences Program, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.


In the nervous system, several classes of cell-surface and extracellular matrix molecules have been implicated in processes such as neural growth, fasciculation, pathfinding, target recognition and synaptogenesis, which require cell-to-cell or cell-to-substrate binding. In the developing mouse cochlea, little is known about the types of cell-surface and extracellular matrix molecules existing along the neural growth paths or their possible roles in development. Whole mount and sectioned cochlear tissue were immunolabeled for six different adhesive molecules - neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), polysialic acid (PSA), neural cell adhesion molecule L1, E-cadherin, syndecan-1 and tenascin-C. A temporospatial map of adhesive molecule distribution in the basal turns of the mouse cochlea was generated. Distributions of adhesive molecules were compared to each other and to the known progress of neural development in the region. This comparison demonstrated differences in the complements of adhesive molecules between the inner and outer hair cell regions, and variations in the expressions of adhesion molecules among different types of nerve fibers. In addition, developmental changes in the adhesive environment around and beneath the outer hair cells coincided with the known timing of the appearance of morphologically defined efferent synapses. These observations raise the possibility that molecular differences at the cell surface of inner and outer hair cells are one way that ingrowing neurites distinguish different environments to determine their growth routes and synaptic partners in the cochlea. In addition these observations demonstrate the potential for differential signaling of afferent and efferent innervation by altering the microenvironments in which synapses are formed.

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