Many members of the C1q family, including complement C1q and adiponectin, and the structurally related tumor necrosis factor family are secreted and play crucial roles in intercellular signaling. Among them, the Cbln (precerebellin) and C1q-like (C1ql) subfamilies are highly and predominantly expressed in the central nervous system. Although the Cbln subfamily serve as essential trans-neuronal regulators of synaptic integrity in the cerebellum, the functions of the C1ql subfamily (C1ql1-C1ql4) remain unexplored. Here, we investigated the gene expression of the C1ql subfamily in the adult and developing mouse brain by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and high-resolution in-situ hybridization. In the adult brain, C1ql1-C1ql3 mRNAs were mainly expressed in neurons but weak expression was seen in glia-like structures in the adult brain. The C1ql1 mRNA was predominantly expressed in the inferior olive, whereas the C1ql2 and C1ql3 mRNAs were strongly coexpressed in the dentate gyrus. Although the C1ql1 and C1ql3 mRNAs were detectable as early as embryonic day 13, the C1ql2 mRNA was observed at later embryonic stages. The C1ql1 mRNA was also expressed transiently in the external granular layer of the cerebellum. Biochemical characterization in heterologous cells revealed that all of the C1ql subfamily proteins were secreted and they formed both homomeric and heteromeric complexes. They also formed hexameric and higher-order complexes via their N-terminal cysteine residues. These results suggest that, like Cbln, the C1ql subfamily has distinct spatial and temporal expression patterns and may play diverse roles by forming homomeric and heteromeric complexes in the central nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas