Cell adhesion molecules of the -immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF CAMs) have been implicated in neural circuit formation in both the peripheral and the central nervous system. Several recent studies highlight a role of the Contactin group of IgSF CAMs in cerebellar development, in particular in the development of granule cells. Granule cells are the most numerous type of neurons in the nervous system and by forming a secondary proliferative zone in the cerebellum they provide an exception to the rule that neuronal precursors proliferate in the ventricular zone. Granule cells express Contactin-2, Contactin-1 and Contactin-6 in a sequential manner. Contactins are required for axon guidance, fasciculation and synaptogenesis, and thus affect multiple steps in neural circuit formation in the developing cerebellum.
Key words: immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecule, parallel fibers, granule cells, axon guidance, synaptogenesis