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Dev Dyn. 1992 Aug;194(4):247-60.

N-cadherin transcripts in Xenopus laevis from early tailbud to tadpole.

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Laboratoire de Physiopathologie du Développement, CNRS URA 1337, Paris, France.


Cadherins are Ca(++)-dependent cell adhesion molecules which play a key role in morphogenesis and histogenesis. Two mRNAs clones (8 and 9) corresponding to two N-cadherin pseudo-allelic genes are present in Xenopus laevis. We report here that these transcripts share a highly homologous coding region but diverge in the non-coding region. We have determined the pattern of N-cadherin expression at the mRNA level by in situ hybridization with a riboprobe complementary to the EC5 domain of Xenopus N-cadherin clone 8. This part of the sequence is the least conserved in the cadherin gene family, minimizing the risk of cross-hybridization to other cadherins. N-cadherin transcripts are not detectable in the first stages of development. Expression first appears in the neural plate and reaches its maximum level in the CNS at tailbud stage. From early tadpole, it diminishes, so that a very weak signal is detected in the premetamorphic frog brain. N-cadherin expression is not uniform within the CNS, with some areas such as the roof of the rhombencephalon and the olfactory bulbs expressing higher levels of the transcripts. N-cadherin is present in several mesodermal derivatives such as the notochord, the pronephros, and the heart. It is, however, virtually absent from the myotomes and appears in skeletal muscles at later stages of differentiation. All placodes express high levels of N-cadherin. The non-neural ectoderm and the endoderm are always negative. In the brain and the heart, high levels of hybridization are observed with probes corresponding to both copies of the N-cadherin pseudo-allelic genes in their 5' non-coding region, indicating that both alleles are transcribed.

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