Expression of the immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules in the developing spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 31;10(3):e0121550. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121550. eCollection 2015.


Cell adhesion molecules belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) control synaptic specificity through hetero- or homophilic interactions in different regions of the nervous system. In the developing spinal cord, monosynaptic connections of exquisite specificity form between proprioceptive sensory neurons and motor neurons, however, it is not known whether IgSF molecules participate in regulating this process. To determine whether IgSF molecules influence the establishment of synaptic specificity in sensory-motor circuits, we examined the expression of 157 IgSF genes in the developing dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal cord by in situ hybridization assays. We find that many IgSF genes are expressed by sensory and motor neurons in the mouse developing DRG and spinal cord. For instance, Alcam, Mcam, and Ocam are expressed by a subset of motor neurons in the ventral spinal cord. Further analyses show that Ocam is expressed by obturator but not quadriceps motor neurons, suggesting that Ocam may regulate sensory-motor specificity in these sensory-motor reflex arcs. Electrophysiological analysis shows no obvious defects in synaptic specificity of monosynaptic sensory-motor connections involving obturator and quadriceps motor neurons in Ocam mutant mice. Since a subset of Ocam+ motor neurons also express Alcam, Alcam or other functionally redundant IgSF molecules may compensate for Ocam in controlling sensory-motor specificity. Taken together, these results reveal that IgSF molecules are broadly expressed by sensory and motor neurons during development, and that Ocam and other IgSF molecules may have redundant functions in controlling the specificity of sensory-motor circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / embryology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulins / genetics
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Spinal Cord / embryology*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Immunoglobulins
  • RNA, Messenger