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Development. 1995 May;121(5):1321-32.

Neural crest cell-cell adhesion controlled by sequential and subpopulation-specific expression of novel cadherins.

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


We identified two cadherins, c-cad6B and c-cad7, expressed by neural crest cells at their premigratory and migratory stages, respectively, in chicken embryos. cDNA transfection experiments showed that both were homophilic adhesion molecules, endowing cells with specific adhesiveness. During development, c-cad6B appeared in the neural fold, localizing at the future neural crest area. This expression was maintained during neural tube closure, but disappeared after neural crest cells had left the neural tube, suggesting its role in neural fold fusion and/or in the formation and maintenance of the presumptive neural crest domain in the neural plate/tube. Crest cells emerging from the neural tube lost c-cad6B, and a subpopulation of them began to express c-cad7. This subpopulation-specific expression of c-cad7 persisted during their migration. The migrating c-cad7-positive cells clustered together, and eventually populated restricted regions including the dorsal and ventral roots but very little ganglia. The latter was populated with N-cadherin-positive crest cells. Migrating neural crest cells expressed alpha- and beta-catenin at cell-cell contacts, indicating that their cadherins are functioning. These results suggest that the migrating crest cells are grouped into subpopulations expressing different cadherins. The cadherin-mediated specific interaction between crest cells likely plays a role in intercellular signaling between homotypic cells as well as in sorting of heterotypic cells.

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