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A biochemical and structural characterization of Drosophila neuroglian


Huber, Andrew Henry (1994) A biochemical and structural characterization of Drosophila neuroglian. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/43ng-md46.


A number of cell-cell interactions in the nervous system are mediated by immunoglobulin gene superfamily members. For example, neuroglian, a homophilic neural cell adhesion molecule in Drosophila, has an extracellular portion comprising six C- 2 type immunoglobulin-like domains followed by five fibronectin type III (FnIII) repeats. Neuroglian shares this domain organization and significant sequence identity with Ll, a murine neural adhesion molecule that could be a functional homologue. Here I report the crystal structure of a proteolytic fragment containing the first two FnIII repeats of neuroglian (NgFn 1,2) at 2.0Å. The interpretation of photomicrographs of rotary shadowed Ng, the entire extracellular portion of neuroglian, and NgFnl-5, the five neuroglian Fn III domains, is also discussed.

The structure of NgFn 1,2 consists of two roughly cylindrical β-barrel structural motifs arranged in a head-to-tail fashion with the domains meeting at an angle of ~120, as defined by the cylinder axes. The folding topology of each domain is identical to that previously observed for single FnIII domains from tenascin and fibronectin. The domains of NgFn1,2 are related by an approximate two fold screw axis that is nearly parallel to the longest dimension of the fragment. Assuming this relative orientation is a general property of tandem FnIII repeats, the multiple tandem FnIII domains in neuroglian and other proteins are modeled as thin straight rods with two domain zig-zag repeats. When combined with the dimensions of pairs of tandem immunoglobulin-like domains from CD4 and CD2, this model suggests that neuroglian is a long narrow molecule (20 - 30 Å in diameter) that extends up to 370Å from the cell surface.

In photomicrographs, rotary shadowed Ng and NgFn1-5 appear to be highly flexible rod-like molecules. NgFn 1-5 is observed to bend in at least two positions and has a mean total length consistent with models generated from the NgFn1,2 structure. Ng molecules have up to four bends and a mean total length of 392 Å, consistent with a head-to-tail packing of neuroglian's C2-type domains.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bjorkman, Pamela J.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:31 May 1994
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05032013-161139911
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7664
Deposited On:06 May 2013 15:01
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:16

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