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Neuron. 1991 Feb;6(2):247-58.

Neurite outgrowth in response to transfected N-CAM and N-cadherin reveals fundamental differences in neuronal responsiveness to CAMs.

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Department of Experimental Pathology UMDS, Guy's Hospital, London Bridge, England.


Different neuronal populations were used to compare the neurite outgrowth-promoting activities of N-CAM and N-cadherin expressed via gene transfer on the surface of nonneuronal cells. In contrast to a previously reported developmental loss of retinal ganglion cell responsiveness to N-CAM, these cells exhibited an increased and maintained responsiveness to N-cadherin over the same developmental period (E6-E11). N-CAM and N-cadherin responses could be specifically inhibited by their own antibodies, but not by antisera to the beta 1 integrin family or the L1/G4 glycoprotein. Cerebellar neurons showed qualitative differences in the nature of the dose-response curves for transfected N-CAM expression (highly cooperative) versus N-cadherin expression (linear). In addition "subthreshold" levels of N-CAM expression, which do not normally support neurite outgrowth, did so when coexpressed with functional levels of N-cadherin. These studies show fundamental differences in neuronal responsiveness to cell adhesion molecules and suggest a more dynamic regulation for N-CAM-dependent neurite outgrowth than for N-cadherin-dependent outgrowth.

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