Cadherin-based cell adhesion in neuromuscular development.Biol Cell 2002; 94(6):315-26BC
The organisation and differentiation of striated skeletal muscles and their innervation is a particularly complex process implicating cells of mesodermic (myoblasts and fibroblasts) and neuroectoderrmic origin (neurons and glial cells). Myogenic and motor neuron precursors, the two major cell types participating in the formation of the neuromuscular axis, migrate, segregate, reassociate and differentiate in a coordinated fashion. The subsequent organisation of muscle cells and the establishment of muscle innervation rely on a complex tissular and cellular architectural organisation, which cannot be understood without taking into account juxtacrine cell interactions, and especially cell adhesion. Cell adhesion receptors of the cadherin family are widely expressed and dynamically regulated in space and time throughout neuromuscular development. A single cell expresses in general more than one cadherin at its surface and it is the combination of these molecules and their level of expression that determine their action within a given cell population. We focused in this review on the expression and roles of classical cadherins in relation to muscle cell and motoneuron differentiation. We also review the latest results on the mode of action of cadherins allowing to propose cellular and molecular cues on the mechanisms by which these cell adhesion receptors control muscle and neuronal cell shape, migration and differentiation.