The role of F-cadherin in localizing cells during neural tube formation in Xenopus embryos
The cell adhesion molecule F-cadherin is expressed in Xenopus embryos at boundaries that subdivide the neural tube into different regions, including one, the sulcus limitans, which partitions the caudal neural tube into a dorsal and ventral half (alar and basal plate, respectively). Here we examine the role of F-cadherin in positioning cells along the caudal neuraxis during neurulation. First, we show that ectopic expression of F-cadherin restricts passive cell mixing within the ectodermal
... the ectodermal epithelium. Second, we show that F-cadherin is first expressed at the sulcus limitans prior to the extensive cell movements that accompany neural tube formation, suggesting that it might serve to position cells at the sulcus limitans by counteracting their tendency to disperse during neurulation. We test this idea using an assay that measures changes in cell movements during neurulation in response to differential cell adhesion. Using this assay, we show that cells expressing F-cadherin localize preferentially to the sulcus limitans, but still disperse when located away from the sulcus limitans. In addition, inhibiting cadherin function prevents cells from localizing precisely at the sulcus limitans. These results indicate that positioning of cells at the sulcus limitans is mediated in part by the differential expression of F-cadherin.