Differential Expression of Individual Gamma-Protocadherins During Mouse Brain Development

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2005 Aug;29(4):603-16. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2005.05.001.


Three tandemly arrayed protocadherin gene clusters (Pcdh-alpha, -beta, -gamma) comprising more than 50 genes are found in human and mouse. Here, we have investigated the expression and distribution of individual gamma-protocadherins (Pcdhs-gamma) in the developing mouse brain. We find that transfection of Pcdh-gamma genes promotes calcium-dependent cell adhesion in HEK 293 cells. Furthermore, Pcdh-gamma can be recruited to synapses of transfected primary hippocampal neurons. Several individual members of the in total 22 Pcdhs-gamma were chosen to examine the expression of the three subfamilies, Pcdh-gammaA, -gammaB, and -gammaC. These Pcdh-gamma transcripts are expressed all over the brain, with minor regional and cell-type specific differences. Interestingly, a distinct, later onset of expression is observed for Pcdh-gammaC5, a gene located at the end of the Pcdh-gamma cluster. Largely overlapping expression patterns of individual Pcdh-gamma proteins are detected with anti-peptide antibodies. Small differences are observed in the staining of dendritic processes and synapse-rich layers. Our results support the idea that Pcdhs-gamma participate in neuronal differentiation and may be implicated in the fine-tuning of neuronal morphology and synaptogenesis. Cell autonomous regulation of transcription might generate the widespread distribution of individual Pcdhs-gamma in the brain, which is strikingly different from the restricted expression patterns observed for classical cadherins. Thus, a defined set of Pcdhs-gamma may engage in neuronal adhesion and signaling on the cellular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendrites / genetics
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / genetics
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Cadherins
  • Gamma-protocadherins
  • Protein Isoforms