During embryonic development of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), the adhesion molecule neuronal cadherin (N-cadherin) is expressed by Schwann cell precursors and associated with axonal growth cones. N-cadherin expression levels decrease as precursors differentiate into Schwann cells. In this study, we investigated the distribution of N-cadherin in the developing postnatal and adult rat peripheral nervous system. N-cadherin was found primarily in ensheathing glia throughout development, concentrated at neuron-glial or glial-glial contacts of the sciatic nerve, dorsal root ganglia (DRG), and myenteric plexi. In the sciatic nerve, N-cadherin decreases with age and progress of myelination. In adult animals, N-cadherin was found exclusively in nonmyelinating Schwann cells. The distribution of N-cadherin in developing E17 DRG primary cultures is similar to what was observed in vivo. Functional studies of N-cadherin in these cultures, using the antagonist peptide INPISGQ, show a disruption of the attachment between Schwann cells, but no interference in the initial or long-term contact between Schwann cells and axons. We suggest that N-cadherin acts primarily in the adhesion between glial cells during postnatal development. It may form adherents/junctions between nonmyelinating glia, which contribute to the stable tubular structure encapsulating thin caliber axons and thus stabilize the nerve structure as a whole.
|Tidsskrift||Journal of Neuroscience Research|
|Status||Udgivet - 2010|