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Dev Dyn. 2004 May;230(1):174-86.

Expression patterns of nectins and afadin during epithelial remodeling in the mouse embryo.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine/Faculty of Medicine, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


Cell-cell adhesion plays key roles in tissue morphogenesis and organogenesis. Nectins are Ca2+-independent immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecules connected to the actin cytoskeleton through afadin. Nectins play roles in a variety of cell-cell junctions in cooperation with or independently of cadherins. Here, we examined the cellular localization of nectins and afadin throughout primitive streak, neural plate, and early organogenesis stages of mouse development. Nectin and afadin localization coincided with a honeycomb-shaped meshwork of actin filaments at adherens junctions of polarized epithelia, including neuroepithelium, epithelial somites, and facial primordia. As organogenesis progressed, nectin-2 expression was maintained in general columnar epithelia, whereas nectin-1 and -3 became highly concentrated at sites of neural morphogenesis. Moreover, nectin-1 was highly expressed in keratinocytes of the skin, developing hair follicles, and epithelium of developing teeth. These results suggest that nectins and afadin are involved in dynamic epithelial remodeling during mouse development.

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