NCAM2 Regulates Dendritic and Axonal Differentiation through the Cytoskeletal Proteins MAP2 and 14-3-3

Cereb Cortex. 2020 May 18;30(6):3781-3799. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz342.


Neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2) is involved in the development and plasticity of the olfactory system. Genetic data have implicated the NCAM2 gene in neurodevelopmental disorders including Down syndrome and autism, although its role in cortical development is unknown. Here, we show that while overexpression of NCAM2 in hippocampal neurons leads to minor alterations, its downregulation severely compromises dendritic architecture, leading to an aberrant phenotype including shorter dendritic trees, retraction of dendrites, and emergence of numerous somatic neurites. Further, our data reveal alterations in the axonal tree and deficits in neuronal polarization. In vivo studies confirm the phenotype and reveal an unexpected role for NCAM2 in cortical migration. Proteomic and cell biology experiments show that NCAM2 molecules exert their functions through a protein complex with the cytoskeletal-associated proteins MAP2 and 14-3-3γ and ζ. We provide evidence that NCAM2 depletion results in destabilization of the microtubular network and reduced MAP2 signal. Our results demonstrate a role for NCAM2 in dendritic formation and maintenance, and in neural polarization and migration, through interaction of NCAM2 with microtubule-associated proteins.

Keywords: 14-3-3; MAP2; NCAM2; dendritogenesis; microtubules; neuronal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 14-3-3 Proteins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics*
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics*
  • Neurons


  • 14-3-3 Proteins
  • MAP2 protein, human
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Mtap2 protein, mouse
  • NCAM2 protein, human
  • Ncam2 protein, mouse
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules