Selective synaptic cadherin expression by traced neurons of the chicken visual system

D. Heyers, H. Luksch, C. Redies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The stable and specific locking-in of pre- and postsynaptic membranes in synaptogenesis may be mediated by integral membrane proteins, such as members of the cadherin family. Cadherins are ideal candidate molecules for mediating synaptic specificity because they are differentially expressed in functionally connected brain structures. We studied the expression of four classic cadherins (R-cadherin, N-cadherin, cadherin-6B and cadherin-7) at the synaptic level on the somata and the proximal neurites of identified neuron populations that were traced selectively in the developing chicken visual system. Three major findings were observed. (1) Synapses on somata of shepherd's crook cells of the optic tectum are associated preferentially with one cadherin subtype. (2) In an isthmic nucleus that contains a mixed population of cells expressing different cadherins, somatic synapses tend to express the same cadherin subtype as the rest of the cell. (3) In the oculomotor complex, two cadherin subtypes are expressed only by synapses on the axon hillock. However, another neuron type that projects from the tectum to the isthmic nucleus does not show such selective synaptic cadherin staining. Our findings support the idea that a cadherin-based adhesive mechanism can mediate synaptic specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-912
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • BDA
  • Cad6B
  • Cad7
  • ChAT
  • GAD
  • HBSS
  • HEPES-buffered salt solution
  • Imc
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • cadherin-6B
  • cadherin-7
  • cell adhesion molecules
  • choline acetyltransferase
  • glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • neural circuits
  • synapse
  • synaptogenesis
  • tracing


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