N-cadherin expression in palisade nerve endings of rat vellus hairs.

Division of Morphological Analysis, Department of Functional, Morphological and Regulatory Science, Faculty of Medicine, Tottori University, Yonago 683-8503, Japan.
The Journal of Comparative Neurology (Impact Factor: 3.51). 03/2008; 506(4):525-34. DOI: 10.1002/cne.21550
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Palisade nerve endings (PNs) are mechanoreceptors around vellus hairs of mammals. Each lanceolate nerve ending (LN) of the PN is characterized by a sensory nerve ending symmetrically sandwiched by two processes of type II terminal Schwann cells (tSCIIs). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the structural organization of the PN are poorly understood. Electron microscopy showed that adherens junctions appeared to adhere to the sensory nerve ending and tSCII processes, so we examined the location of the N-cadherin adhesion system in PNs of rat vellus hairs by using immunoelectron microscopy. N-cadherin localized near both ends of the cell boundary between sensory nerve ending and tSCII processes, which corresponded to the sites of adherens junctions. We further found cadherin-associated proteins, alpha- and beta-catenins, at the linings of adherens junctions. Three-dimensional reconstruction of immunoelectron microscopic serial thin sections showed four linear arrays of N-cadherin arranged longitudinally along the LN beneath the four longitudinal borders of two tSCII processes. In contrast, sensory nerve fibers just proximal to the LNs formed common unmyelinated nerve fibers, in which N-cadherin was located mainly at the mesaxon of type I terminal Schwann cells (tSCIs). These results suggest that the four linear arrays of N-cadherin-mediated junctions adhere the sensory nerve ending and tSCII processes side by side to form the characteristic structure of the LN, and the structural differences between the LNs and the proximal unmyelinated nerve fibers possibly are due to the difference in the pattern of N-cadherin expression between sensory nerve endings and tSCII or tSCI processes.

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