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Exp Cell Res. 1995 Oct;220(2):243-56.

Cadherin expression in the developing vertebrate CNS: from neuromeres to brain nuclei and neural circuits.

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Department of Biochemistry, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.


Cadherins are a family of cell surface glycoproteins which mediate cell-cell adhesion by a Ca(2+)-dependent mechanism. Results from in vitro studies with cadherin-transfected cell lines show that cadherins preferentially bind to each other in a homophilic fashion. In the developing vertebrate brain, at least 10 cadherins are found. Some of these cadherins are expressed in a restricted fashion in particular developing brain nuclei and neural circuits. Based on these results, specific morphogenetic roles for cadherins during CNS development have been proposed. This review focuses on the possible role of cadherin-mediated sorting and aggregation of early neurons and neurites in the formation of brain nuclei, fiber tracts, and neural circuits. Moreover, at least 1 cadherin is also expressed in a segmental ("neuromeric") fashion in the early chicken forebrain, suggesting that this cadherin regulates developmental processes involved in the transformation from the neuromeric organization of the early neuroepithelium to the functional organization of the mature brain.

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