Neural cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily mediate cellular interactions via homophilic binding to identical molecules and heterophilic binding to other family members or structurally unrelated cell-surface glycoproteins. Here we report on an interaction between axonin-1 and Nr-CAM/Bravo. In search for novel ligands of axonin-1, fluorescent polystyrene microspheres conjugated with axonin-1 were found to bind to peripheral glial cells from dorsal root ganglia. By antibody blockage experiments an axonin-1 receptor on the glial cells was identified as Nr-CAM. The specificity of the interaction was confirmed with binding studies using purified axonin-1 and Nr-CAM. In cultures of dissociated dorsal root ganglia antibodies against axonin-1 and Nr-CAM perturbed the formation of contacts between neurites and peripheral glial cells. Together, these results implicate a binding between axonin-1 of the neuritic and Nr-CAM of the glial cell membrane in the early phase of axon ensheathment in the peripheral nervous system.

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