• ependyma;
  • tanycyte;
  • oligodendrocyte;
  • astrocyte;
  • NG2-expressing glial cells;
  • cadherin


p120 catenin (p120ctn) is involved in the regulation of cadherin-mediated adhesion and the dynamic organization of the actin cytoskeleton by modulating RhoGTPase activity. We have previously described the distribution of p120ctn during rat brain development and provided substantial evidence for the potential involvement of p120ctn in morphogenetic events and plasticity in the central nervous system. Here, we analyzed the cellular and ultrastructural distribution of p120ctn in glial cells of the adult rat forebrain. The highest intensity of immunostaining for p120ctn was found in cells of the choroid plexus and ependyma and was mainly restricted to the plasma membrane. However, p120ctn was almost absent from astrocytes. In contrast, in tanycytes, a particular glial cell exhibiting remarkable morphological plasticity, p120ctn, was localized at the plasma membrane and also in the cytoplasm. We show that a large subpopulation of oligodendrocytes expressed multiple isoforms, whereas other neural cells predominantly expressed isoform 1, and that p120ctn immunoreactivity was distributed through the cytoplasm and at certain portions of the plasma membrane. Finally, p120ctn was expressed by a small population of cortical NG2-expressing cells, whereas it was expressed by a large population of these cells in the white matter. However, in both regions, proliferating NG2-positive cells consistently expressed p120ctn. The expression of p120ctn by cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage suggests that p120ctn may participate in oligodendrogenesis and myelination. Moreover, the expression of p120ctn by various cell types and its differential subcellular distribution strongly suggest that p120ctn may serve multiple functions in the central nervous system. J. Comp. Neurol. 479:15–29, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.