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Front Mol Neurosci. 2012 Jun 20;5:76. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2012.00076. eCollection 2012.

Neural cell adhesion molecule, NCAM, regulates thalamocortical axon pathfinding and the organization of the cortical somatosensory representation in mouse.

Author information

1
Instituto de Neurociencias, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Miguel Hernández San Juan de Alicante, Spain.

Abstract

To study the potential role of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in the development of thalamocortical (TC) axon topography, wild type, and NCAM null mutant mice were analyzed for NCAM expression, projection, and targeting of TC afferents within the somatosensory area of the neocortex. Here we report that NCAM and its α-2,8-linked polysialic acid (PSA) are expressed in developing TC axons during projection to the neocortex. Pathfinding of TC axons in wild type and null mutant mice was mapped using anterograde DiI labeling. At embryonic day E16.5, null mutant mice displayed misguided TC axons in the dorsal telencephalon, but not in the ventral telencephalon, an intermediate target that initially sorts TC axons toward correct neocortical areas. During the early postnatal period, rostrolateral TC axons within the internal capsule along the ventral telencephalon adopted distorted trajectories in the ventral telencephalon and failed to reach the neocortex in NCAM null mutant animals. NCAM null mutants showed abnormal segregation of layer IV barrels in a restricted portion of the somatosensory cortex. As shown by Nissl and cytochrome oxidase staining, barrels of the anterolateral barrel subfield (ALBSF) and the most distal barrels of the posteromedial barrel subfield (PMBSF) did not segregate properly in null mutant mice. These results indicate a novel role for NCAM in axonal pathfinding and topographic sorting of TC axons, which may be important for the function of specific territories of sensory representation in the somatosensory cortex.

KEYWORDS:

NCAM; adhesion and signaling molecules; axonal pathfinding; axonal tract tracing; barrel cortex; thalamocortical axons

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