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Dev Biol. 1997 Jul 1;187(1):55-70.

A potential role of R-cadherin in striated muscle formation.

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Department of Microbiology, Umeå University, Sweden.


We have examined the murine embryonic expression pattern of the cell adhesion molecule R-cadherin in muscle, kidney, thymus, and lung. In developing muscle, R-cadherin was first seen at 10.5-11.5 days postcoitum in the somitic myotome. Consistently, we found R-cadherin expressed at the highest levels in the myotome, early skeletal muscle, and smooth muscle (both vascular and visceral), while very low levels of R-cadherin were detected in the heart. The expression pattern and subcellular localization of R-cadherin in developing skeletal muscle indicate a possible role in myoblast cell-cell interactions during both primary and secondary myogenesis. In the developing kidney, R-cadherin was first detected at 10.5 days postcoitum in the mesonephric epithelial tubule cells. In the metanephric kidney, it was specifically expressed in the pretubular aggregates, comma- and S-shaped bodies, proximal tubules, and collecting ducts. Thus, in the kidney, R-cadherin was associated with the mesenchymal-epithelial transition. R-cadherin was also found in other developing epithelia, for example in the thymic epithelial cells. In the lung, R-cadherin was expressed at the highest levels in the smooth muscle surrounding the lung epithelial tubules. To test whether R-cadherin can direct formation of tissues, we constitutively expressed R-cadherin in E-cadherin-/- ES cells and examined histogenesis in teratomas derived from these cells. R-cadherin exclusively rescued formation of striated muscle and epithelia in the teratomas. R-cadherin's ability to form epithelia in vivo was substantiated by its ability to rescue formation of cystic embryoid bodies in vitro. By comparing our data with the previously reported embryonic expression patterns and histogenetic activities of E- and N-cadherin, we suggest that R-cadherin plays an important role in the formation of striated muscle and possibly also of epithelia.

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