Expression of Various NCAM Isoforms in Human Embryonic Muscles: Correlation with Myosin Heavy Chain Phenotypes


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Abstract

Neural cell adhesion molecules (NCAM) are known to play a pivotal role in regulating cell-cell interactions in various tissues. The diversity of NCAM is made by alternative splicing of a single gene and by post-translational modifications. The spatio-temporal expression of the various isoforms is developmentally regulated and may modulate cell interactions. We investigated the expression of NCAM isoforms, in particular polysialylated and phosphatidylinositol-anchored isoforms, in developing psoas and quadriceps human muscle from 15 weeks of gestation to term. In parallel, we examined the expression of the myosin heavy chain phenotype (another developmentally regulated system) to determine whether polysialylated-NCAM molecules (the so-called embryonic NCAM) and developmental myosin heavy chains are coexpressed. Our results showed an expression of polysialylated-NCAM and phosphatidylinositol-anchored isoforms during the early stages of myotube maturation. The expression of polysialylated-NCAM on developing myotube was always associated with the expression of developmental myosin heavy chains. However, the loss of polysialylated-NCAM from maturing myotubes was not correlated with the disappearance of the developmental myosin heavy chains, but rather with the appearance of an adult myosin heavy chain phenotype. The relationship between polysialated-NCAM and myosin heavy chain phenotype was similar in psoas and in quadriceps muscles. We observed that maturation of quadriceps muscle takes place earlier than psoas. Biochemical analysis showed that phosphatidylinositol-anchored molecules were never polysialylated; this indicates different roles of these isoforms in muscle development.

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