The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 37: 327 - 336 (1993)

Vol 37, Issue 2

Expression of polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-N-CAM) in developing, adult and regenerating caudal spinal cord of the urodele amphibians

Published: 1 June 1993

X Caubit, J P Arsanto, D Figarella-Branger and Y Thouveny

Laboratoire de Biologie de la Différenciation Cellulaire, URA CNRS 179, Faculté des Sciences de Luminy, Marseille, France.


The patterns of expression of polysialylated ("embryonic") form of Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (PSA/E-N-CAM) and of all N-CAM isoforms were investigated by indirect immunofluorescence and immunoblotting during the development of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and during the regeneration of the caudal Spinal Cord (SC) of the amphibian urodeles Pleurodeles waltl (Pw) and Notophthalmus viridescens (Nv). In this study, a monoclonal antibody to group B Meningococcus (anti-Men-B) which recognizes alpha-2,8-linked sialic units of PSA-N-CAM, and polyclonal anti-total N-CAM antibodies were used. Total-N-CAM immunoreactivities were consistently detected throughout the CNS of developing and adult newts. PSA-N-CAM expression predominated in "embryonic" developing CNS and was reduced to certain CNS areas in the adult urodeles. In the case of SC, the expression level of this isoform of N-CAM dramatically decreased to become low and nearly restricted to some ependymoglial cell surfaces. Interestingly, during newt tail regeneration, PSA-N-CAM was intensely reexpressed in regenerating SC, at the surface of ependymoglial cell processes and in axonal compartments. Expression was maximal at 4 to 6 weeks following amputation, and then gradually returned to a normal adult low level in well differentiated SC. These findings strongly supported the view that the expression of PSA-N-CAM was associated with the properties of plasticity shown by the SC ependymoglial tissue in newts, during tail regeneration. On the other hand, the high level of PSA-N-CAM expression in axonal compartments of regenerating as well as developing SC suggested that these isoforms of N-CAM could be implicated in axonal outgrowth within the "tunnels" defined by the radial ependymoglial processes. This transient PSA-N-CAM expression could therefore be considered both as a negative modulator of cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions and as a permissive factor for neuron differentiation.

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