The molecular mechanism by which the L1 cell adhesion molecule mediates neurite outgrowth has been examined. Purified L1 from mouse and L1 from chick brain were attached to nitrocellulose dishes. Both chick and mouse neurons were able to adhere to purified mouse L1 and chick L1. Both molecules promoted neurite extension from chick and mouse neurons. Addition of Fabs specific for chick L1 to the cultures inhibited chick neurite outgrowth on both mouse L1 and chick L1. These findings suggest that L1-like molecules support neurite outgrowth via a "homophilic" binding mechanism.
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