The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 39: 1005 - 1013 (1995)

Vol 39, Issue 6

Expression of isoforms of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and polysialic acid during the development of the Bufo arenarum olfactory system

Published: 30 November -0001

D A Paz, D G Alonso, A Pisano, V H Casco, K A Knudsen and A Peralta Soler

Laboratorio de Investigaciones Embriológicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily that promotes Ca(2+)-independent cell-cell adhesion, is expressed as various isoforms generated by alternative splicing. In this study, the expression of the 180 kDa isoform (180-NCAM), total NCAM (180, 140 and 120 kDa isoforms) and the polysialic acid moiety of NCAM (PSA) were analyzed during the development of the olfactory system of the toad Bufo arenarum using specific antibodies and immunofluorescence light microscopy. NCAM and PSA were not found in the ectodermal thickening corresponding to the olfactory placode at early larval stage (stage 17), but by stage 19, total NCAM, 180-NCAM and PSA were all expressed in the invaginating olfactory placode at the sites of cell-cell contact and in the differentiating olfactory epithelium. Later, NCAM isoforms and PSA were found also in the primary fibers of the olfactory nerve and in the olfactory bulb. However, the expression of 180-NCAM decreased near the end of larval development and was absent in post-metamorphic and adult animals. In contrast, total NCAM (representing 140 and/or 120 kDa isoforms) and PSA continued to be expressed in olfactory tissues of post-metamorphic and adult animals, consistent with the persistent neural plasticity of this tissue. Because 180-NCAM has been associated with non-proliferating neurons, its down-regulation in post-metamorphic and adult olfactory system may be associated with the regenerative capability and continuous cell turnover documented for this region in adult animals.

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