Cadherin expression delineates the divisions of the postnatal and adult mouse amygdala
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The amygdaloid complex represents a group of telencephalic nuclei and cortical areas that control emotional and social behavior. Amygdalar development is poorly understood. It is generally accepted that the structures of the amygdala originate from the neuroepithelium at both sides of the pallial–subpallial boundary. In the present study, we mapped the expression of 13 members of the cadherin superfamily of cell adhesion molecules, which provide an adhesive code for the development and maintenance of functional structures in the central nervous system (CNS). Five classic cadherins (Cdh4, Cdh6, Cdh7, Cdh8, Cdh11) and eight delta-protocadherins (Pcdh1, Pcdh7, Pcdh8, Pcdh9, Pcdh10, Pcdh11, PCdh17, PCdh19) were studied by in situ hybridization in the postnatal (P5) and adult mouse amygdala. In the different parts of the amygdala, each of these (proto-) cadherins shows a distinct and spatially restricted expression pattern that is highly similar at postnatal and adult stages. The combinatorial expression of (proto-) cadherins allows the distinction of multiple molecular subdivisions within the amygdala that partially coincide with previously described morphological divisions. Beyond these expected results, a number of novel molecular subdivisions and subpopulations of cells were identified; for example, additional molecular subdomains, patches, or cell aggregates with distinct (proto-) cadherin expression in several nuclei/ areas of the amygdala. We also show that several cadherins are molecular markers for particular functional subsystems within the amygdala, such as in the olfactory projections. In summary, (proto-) cadherins provide a code of potentially adhesive cues that can aid the understanding of functional organization in the amygdala. J. Comp. Neurol. 520:3982–4012, 2012.