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Neuron. 1988 Jun;1(4):289-95.

Role of N-cadherin cell adhesion molecules in the histogenesis of neural retina.

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Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


We investigated the role of N-cadherin cell adhesion molecules in the histogenesis of the chicken neural retina. In the undifferentiated retina of early embryos, N-cadherin is almost evenly distributed. With differentiation, N-cadherin was gradually localized in particular cell layers. In the 8.5 to 10.5 day embryos, N-cadherin was most abundant in the optic nerve fiber layer, the plexiform layers and the outer limiting membrane. Thereafter, this molecule gradually diminished from most parts of the retina, except in the outer limiting membrane. When incubated with Fab fragments of a polyclonal antibody to N-cadherin, retinas of early embryos tended to dissociate and could not be maintained as a tissue mass. Retinas from older embryos were not dissociated by the Fab, but their morphogenesis was severely affected. We conclude that N-cadherin is essential for maintaining the overall structure of the undifferentiated retina, but during development, its role becomes restricted to maintaining more specific regions of the tissue. We also suggest that there might be additional, unidentified cadherin-like molecules in the retina.

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