N-cadherin in normal and abnormal brain development

L. A. Lagunowich, A. P. Stein, K. R. Reuhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


The brain relies upon numerous morphoregulatory molecules to control cell- cell interactions, cell migration and neurite extension. N-cadherin, a calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecule, is essential for normal CNS development. Homophilic binding of N-cadherin depends upon a specific conformation assumed by the molecule when it binds calcium. N-cadherin is a substrate for a specific zinc-dependent protease that may be involved in the regulation of N-cadherin at the cell surface. The reliance of N-cadherin on two cations for proper function makes it a potential target for toxicants which act by replacing or modifying calcium or zinc at ion-binding sites. Exposure of the developing brain to lead, an ubiquitous toxicant known to interact with calcium, disturbs neural tube closure and subsequent maturation of the nervous system. Preliminary data indicates that lead may induce these effects by direct interaction with N-cadherin. Numerous common toxicants, including metals and solvents, also perturb cadherins and cause defective CNS development. These data indicate that changes in the spatio-temporal expression of cadherin can result in profound alterations in neural structure and function, and may underlie CNS malformations caused by numerous toxic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


  • Brain Malformation
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Lead
  • N-cadherin

Cite this

Lagunowich, L. A., Stein, A. P., & Reuhl, K. R. (1994). N-cadherin in normal and abnormal brain development. Neurotoxicology, 15(1), 123-132.