Calcium-dependent adhesion is necessary for the maintenance of prosomeres

Maria McCarthy, Erqian Na, Christine Neyt, Alex Langston, Gord Fishell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell adhesion has been suggested to function in the establishment and maintenance of the segmental organization of the central nervous system. Here we tested the role of different classes of adhesion molecules in prosencephalic segmentation. Specifically, we examined the ability of progenitors from different prosomeres to reintegrate and differentiate within various brain regions after selective maintenance or removal of different classes of calcium-dependent versus -independent surface molecules. This analysis implicates calcium-dependent adhesion molecules as central to the maintenance of prosomeres. Only conditions that spared calcium-dependent adhesion systems but ablated more general (calcium-independent) adhesion systems resulted in prosomere-specific integration after transplantation. Among the members of this class of adhesion molecules, R-cadherin shows a striking pattern of prosomeric expression during development. To test whether expression of this molecule was sufficient to direct progenitor integration to prosomeres expressing R-cadherin, we used a retroviral-mediated gain-of-function approach. We found that progenitors originally isolated from prosomere P2 (a region which does not express R-cadherin), when forced to express this molecule, can now integrate more readily into R-cadherin-expressing regions, such as the cortex, the ventral thalamus, and the hypothalamus. Nonetheless, our analysis suggests that while calcium-dependent molecules are able to direct prosomere-specific integration, they are not sufficient to induce progenitors to change their regional identity. While diencephalic progenitors from R-cadherin-expressing regions of prosomere 5 could integrate into R-cadherin-expressing regions of the cortex, they did not express the cortex-specific gene Emx1 or the telencephalic-specific gene Bf-1. Furthermore, diencephalic progenitors that integrate heterotopically into the cortex do not persist postnatally, whereas the same progenitors survive and differentiate when they integrate homotopically into the diencephalon. Together our results implicate calcium-dependent adhesion molecules as key mediators of prosomeric organization but suggest that they are not sufficient to bestow regional identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-94
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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