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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1998;39(1):52-62.

N-cadherin is required for the differentiation and initial myofibrillogenesis of chick cardiomyocytes.

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Department of Pathology, Mie University, School of Medicine, Tsu, Japan.


To investigate initial stages of cardiac myofibrillogenesis, heart-forming mesoderm was excised from stage 6 chick embryos and explanted on fibronectin-coated coverglasses. The explants were fixed at various times and immunofluorescently stained with antibodies to N-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, sarcomeric myosin, pan and sarcomeric alpha-actinins, or rhodamine phalloidin. After 7 hours in culture the cells appeared epithelial. N-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenin, pan alpha-actinin, and F-actin showed circumferential localization at cell borders. No cells in the explant were positive for sarcomeric alpha-actinin or sarcomeric myosin at this stage. Sarcomeric alpha-actinin and sarcomeric myosin were detected around 10 hours after plating. Sarcomeric alpha-actinin initially appeared as small beads along thin actin filaments. Mature Z-lines began to be organized at 20 hours, at the same time the cells started to contract. When the rat monoclonal antibody NCD-2, which inhibits N-cadherin function, was added to the culture at early time-points, cells lost cell-cell contacts, became spherical in shape, and contained tangled actin fibers. The expression of sarcomeric alpha-actinin and sarcomeric myosin was suppressed. These results indicate that 1) the precardiac mesoderm explant cells differentiate and form well-organized myofibrils in culture, 2) N-cadherin-mediated cell-cell interactions are necessary for early differentiation of cardiomyocytes and organization of myofibrils.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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