Myelination triggers local loss of axonal CNR/protocadherin alpha family protein expression.
The cadherin-related neuronal receptor (CNR)/protocadherin (Pcdh) alpha family is one of the diverse protocadherin families expressed in developing axons. We observed a strong axonal expression of these proteins at late embryonic and early postnatal stages corresponding to regions where fibers had not yet been myelinated. We therefore followed the postnatal localization of CNR/Pcdh alpha protein in major axonal tracts, such as the internal capsule, lateral olfactory tract, and optic nerve, and found that its axonal localization was dramatically lost in parallel with the increased expression of myelin markers. Moreover, the hypomyelinated optic nerve tracts of the myelin-deficient Shiverer mouse exhibited elevated levels of CNR/Pcdh alpha expression. These axonal expression patterns of CNR/Pcdh alpha in wild-type and Shiverer mice were similar to those of growth associated protein 43 (GAP-43) and L1, both of which are associated with axonal maturation. Thus, myelination may be a trigger for the local loss of axonal CNR/Pcdh alpha protein, and this process may be important in the maturation of neural circuits.