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Dev Dyn. 2018 Jul;247(7):934-950. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24629. Epub 2018 Apr 10.

Neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NrCAM) is expressed by sensory cells in the cochlea and is necessary for proper cochlear innervation and sensory domain patterning during development.

Author information

Department of Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
Laboratory of Cochlear Development, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery and Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.



In the cochlea, auditory development depends on precise patterns of innervation by afferent and efferent nerve fibers, as well as a stereotyped arrangement of hair and supporting cells. Neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NrCAM) is a homophilic cell adhesion molecule that controls diverse aspects of nervous system development, but the function of NrCAM in cochlear development is not well understood.


Throughout cochlear innervation, NrCAM is detectable on spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) afferent and olivocochlear efferent fibers, and on the membranes of developing hair and supporting cells. Neonatal Nrcam-null cochleae show errors in type II SGN fasciculation, reduced efferent innervation, and defects in the stereotyped packing of hair and supporting cells. Nrcam loss also leads to dramatic changes in the profiles of presynaptic afferent and efferent synaptic markers at the time of hearing onset. Despite these numerous developmental defects, Nrcam-null adults do not show defects in auditory acuity, and by postnatal day 21, the developmental deficits in ribbon synapse distribution and sensory domain structure appear to have been corrected.


NrCAM is expressed by several neural and sensory epithelial subtypes within the developing cochlea, and the loss of Nrcam confers numerous, but nonpermanent, developmental defects in innervation and sensory domain patterning. Developmental Dynamics 247:934-950, 2018. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


NrCAM; axon guidance; cochlear development; hair cell; spiral ganglion

[Available on 2019-07-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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