[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell adhesion molecules are plasma membrane proteins specialized in cell-cell recognition and adhesion. Two related adhesion molecules, Necl-1 and Necl-2/SynCAM, were recently described and shown to fulfill important functions in the central nervous system. The purpose of the work was to investigate the distribution, and the properties of Necl-3/SynCAM-2, a previously uncharacterized member of the Necl family with which it shares a conserved modular organization and extensive sequence homology.
We show that Necl-3/SynCAM-2 is a plasma membrane protein that accumulates in several tissues, including those of the central and peripheral nervous system. There, Necl-3/SynCAM-2 is expressed in ependymal cells and in myelinated axons, and sits at the interface between the axon shaft and the myelin sheath. Several independent assays demonstrate that Necl-3/SynCAM-2 functionally and selectively interacts with oligodendrocytes. We finally prove that Necl-3/SynCAM-2 is a bona fide adhesion molecule that engages in homo- and heterophilic interactions with the other Necl family members, leading to cell aggregation.
Collectively, our manuscripts and the works on Necl-1 and SynCAM/Necl-2 reveal a complex set of interactions engaged in by the Necl proteins in the nervous system. Our work also support the notion that the family of Necl proteins fulfils key adhesion and recognition functions in the nervous system, in particular between different cell types.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of the primary visual cortex in animals possessing binocular vision is a classical paradigm for the study of activity-dependent neuronal plasticity. To elucidate the genetic determinants of this period of substantial plasticity, we conducted an unbiased and comprehensive transcript profiling analysis with differential display and DNA array techniques. We characterized the transcripts that change significantly between the critical and postcritical periods in the rat binocular visual cortex. We determined if these changes are specific for the visual cortex by simultaneously profiling the hippocampus and examined the impact of sensory experience on the accumulation of the identified transcripts. Our results uncover visual cortex-specific and unspecific transcription programs. Transcripts for protein kinases and phosphatases are particularly regulated. The identified transcripts support the notion that the critical period provides a permissive state for plasticity.