During axonal elongation in the developing peripheral nervous system, the temporal and spatial distribution of adhesive molecules in extracellular matrices and on neighboring cell surfaces may provide "choices" of pathways for growth cone migration. The extracellular matrix glycoprotein laminin appears in early embryos and mediates neuronal adhesion and neurite extension in vitro. In this study, we have examined the distribution of laminin at early periods of peripheral nervous system development. The distribution of laminin, demonstrated by immunostaining frozen sections of chick embryos, was compared to the distribution of fibronectin and of early peripheral neurites as revealed with an antibody to a neurofilament-associated protein. Laminin is present in the neural tube basement membrane, in early ganglia, and in developing dorsal and ventral roots, where the laminin staining pattern parallels that of neurofilaments. In early ganglia and nerve roots, laminin immunostaining defines loose "meshworks" rather than basement membranes, which seem to form slightly later in these structures. In contrast, fibronectin is absent in neural tube basement membrane, ganglia, and nerve roots, although it is present along neural crest migratory pathways and in intersomitic spaces. Our observations of laminin distribution are consistent with the possibility that laminin provides an adhesive surface for neurite extension at some stages of early peripheral nervous system development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
’ This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants NS17192 to P.C.L. and EY05371 and EY05372 to S.C.M. and National Science Foundation Grant PCM8203855 to P.C.L. ‘To whom correspondence should be addressed; Department of Anatomy, Basic Medical Sciences Bldg., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N. Mex. 87131.