The structurally related cell adhesion molecules L1 and Nr-CAM have overlapping expression patterns in cerebellar granule cells. Here we analyzed their involvement in granule cell development using mutant mice. Nr-CAM-deficient cerebellar granule cells failed to extend neurites in vitro on contactin, a known ligand for Nr-CAM expressed in the cerebellum, confirming that these mice are functionally null for Nr-CAM. In vivo, Nr-CAM-null cerebella did not exhibit obvious histological defects, although a mild size reduction of several lobes was observed, most notably lobes IV and V in the vermis. Mice deficient for both L1 and Nr-CAM exhibited severe cerebellar folial defects and a reduction in the thickness of the inner granule cell layer. Additionally, anti-L1 antibodies specifically disrupted survival and maintenance of Nr-CAM-deficient granule cells in cerebellar cultures treated with antibodies. The combined results indicate that Nr-CAM and L1 play a role in cerebellar granule cell development, and suggest that closely related molecules in the L1 family have overlapping functions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Cell adhesion molecule