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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2005 Aug;29(4):603-16.

Differential expression of individual gamma-protocadherins during mouse brain development.

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Department of Molecular Embryology, Max-Planck Institute of Immunobiology, D-79108 Freiburg, Germany.


Three tandemly arrayed protocadherin gene clusters (Pcdh-alpha, -beta, -gamma) comprising more than 50 genes are found in human and mouse. Here, we have investigated the expression and distribution of individual gamma-protocadherins (Pcdhs-gamma) in the developing mouse brain. We find that transfection of Pcdh-gamma genes promotes calcium-dependent cell adhesion in HEK 293 cells. Furthermore, Pcdh-gamma can be recruited to synapses of transfected primary hippocampal neurons. Several individual members of the in total 22 Pcdhs-gamma were chosen to examine the expression of the three subfamilies, Pcdh-gammaA, -gammaB, and -gammaC. These Pcdh-gamma transcripts are expressed all over the brain, with minor regional and cell-type specific differences. Interestingly, a distinct, later onset of expression is observed for Pcdh-gammaC5, a gene located at the end of the Pcdh-gamma cluster. Largely overlapping expression patterns of individual Pcdh-gamma proteins are detected with anti-peptide antibodies. Small differences are observed in the staining of dendritic processes and synapse-rich layers. Our results support the idea that Pcdhs-gamma participate in neuronal differentiation and may be implicated in the fine-tuning of neuronal morphology and synaptogenesis. Cell autonomous regulation of transcription might generate the widespread distribution of individual Pcdhs-gamma in the brain, which is strikingly different from the restricted expression patterns observed for classical cadherins. Thus, a defined set of Pcdhs-gamma may engage in neuronal adhesion and signaling on the cellular level.

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