Podocalyxin (Podxl) is a type I membrane mucin-protein of the CD34 family abundantly expressed in kidney epithelial cells (podocytes) where it plays a crucial functional role. Podxl is also expressed in tissues other than kidney, like in brain, but its function is ignored. To investigate the functional role of podocalyxin (Podxl) in brain we produced the specific brain-ablation of the Podxl gen in mice by crossing Podxl(floxed/floxed) mice, generated in our laboratory, to mice with pan-neural expression of recombinase Cre (Cre3). Podxl(-/-) mice show no apparent behavioral phenotype but their brains showed enlargement of ventricular volumes detected in vivo by MR imaging. The pattern of brain vasculature was of normal appearance but the thickness of the main carotid artery was significantly increased. Moreover, the histological analysis showed increased number of choroidal capillaries lining the ventricular spaces. These findings are analyzed in the light of the role likely played by podocalyxin in cell migration and cell-cell recognition during brain development and also on the consistent findings of increased ventricular spaces in human pathological disorders like schizophrenia.
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