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BMC Dev Biol. 2007 Nov 28;7:130.

Cadherin-mediated adhesion regulates posterior body formation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21250, USA.



The anterior-posterior axis of the vertebrate embryo undergoes a dramatic elongation during early development. Convergence and extension of the mesoderm, occurring during gastrulation, initiates the narrowing and lengthening of the embryo. However the lengthening of the axis continues during post-gastrula stages in the tailbud region, and is thought to involve convergent extension movements as well as other cell behaviors specific to posterior regions.


We demonstrate here, using a semi-dominant N-cadherin allele, that members of the classical cadherin subfamily of cell-cell adhesion molecules are required for tailbud elongation in the zebrafish. In vivo imaging of cell behaviors suggests that the extension of posterior axial mesodermal cells is impaired in embryos that carry the semi-dominant N-cadherin allele. This defect most likely results from a general loss of cell-cell adhesion in the tailbud region. Consistent with these observations, N-cadherin is expressed throughout the tailbud during post-gastrulation stages. In addition, we show that N-cadherin interacts synergistically with vang-like 2, a member of the non-canonical Wnt signaling/planar cell polarity pathway, to mediate tail morphogenesis.


We provide the first evidence here that N-cadherin and other members of the classical cadherin subfamily function in parallel with the planar cell polarity pathway to shape the posterior axis during post-gastrulation stages. These findings further highlight the central role that adhesion molecules play in the cellular rearrangements that drive morphogenesis in vertebrates and identify classical cadherins as major contributors to tail development.

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