Protocadherins And Synapse Development

Joshua A. Weiner* 1. SUMMARY

Three families of protocadherin (Pcdh) genes, Pcdh-a, -ft, and -y are clustered in a tandem array on a single chromosome in mammals. Members of these Pcdh families are expressed in an overlapping, combinatorial manner in the nervous system and the proteins they encode are present at some synaptic sites. This has led to the hypothesis that protocadherins may provide an adhesive code involved in the specification of synaptic patterning. Mice in which the 22-gene Pcdh- y cluster has been deleted or disrupted die shortly after birth with synaptic defects that may be consistent with such a function. This chapter reviews these and other recent data on the organization, expression, and function of the clustered Pcdh genes and enumerates several unanswered questions that will be important to address in future work.

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