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Dev Biol. 1988 Dec;130(2):645-70.

Distinct roles for adhesion molecules during innervation of embryonic chick muscle.

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Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06268.


In vitro studies have suggested that the cell adhesion molecules NCAM and G4/L1 contribute to a variety of events during neural development. We have directly tested the role played by these molecules in the process of initial nerve ingrowth and ramification in the embryonic chick iliofibularis muscle by in ovo injections of specific adhesion-blocking antibodies and analysis of the resultant nerve branching pattern in muscle whole mounts. Antibodies against both molecules produced axonal defasciculation, which resulted in an enhanced transverse projection to the fast region of the muscle. In the case of anti-G4/L1, we also observed a large increase in the number of side branches that form from nerve trunks in the slow region and an enhancement of nerve branching in the fast region. Conversely, anti-NCAM produced a striking decrease in both the number and length of side branches in the slow region, and a reduction in nerve branching in the fast region. A similar reduction of nerve branching was obtained following injection of an endosialidase, which removes sialic acid from NCAM, and which was observed to enhance fiber-fiber apposition, presumably by increasing cell adhesion. Based on their biochemical properties in vitro and their in vivo distribution, both NCAM and G4/L1 are in a position to contribute to axon-axon adhesive interactions, whereas NCAM would be expected to also promote axon-myotube interactions. Our observations in fact indicate that these two adhesion molecules play different but complementary roles during muscle innervation and, specifically, that axon-axon fasciculation is influenced by both NCAM and G4/L1 in an anatomically distinct manner to regulate the overall pattern of nerve branching and that NCAM-mediated axon-myotube interactions are necessary for the attainment of the normal stereotyped pattern of nerve branching in both fast and slow regions of this muscle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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