Visualization of corticofugal projections during early cortical development in a τ-GFP-transgenic mouse
ABSTRACT The first postmitotic neurons in the developing neocortex establish the preplate layer. These early-born neurons have a significant influence on the circuitry of the developing cortex. However, the exact timing and trajectory of their projections, between cortical hemispheres and intra- and extra-cortical regions, remain unresolved. Here, we describe the creation of a transgenic mouse using a 1.3 kb golli promoter element of the myelin basic protein gene to target expression of a tau-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion protein in the cell bodies and processes of pioneer cortical neurons. During embryonic and early neonatal development, the timing and patterning of process extension from these neurons was examined. Analysis of tau-GFP fluorescent fibers revealed that progression of early labeled projections was interrupted unexpectedly by transient pauses at the corticostriatal and telencephalic-diencephalic boundaries before invading the thalamus just prior to birth. After birth the pioneering projections differentially invaded the thalamus, excluding some nuclei, e.g. medial and lateral geniculate, until postnatal days 10-14. Early labeled projections were also found to cross to the contralateral hemisphere as well as to the superior colliculus. These results indicate that early corticothalamic projections appear to pause before invading specific subcortical regions during development, that there is developmental regulation of innervation of individual thalamic nuclei, and that these early-generated neurons also establish early projections to commissural and subcortical targets.
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ABSTRACT: In this review we discuss recent advances in the understanding of the development of forebrain projections attending to their origin, fate determination, and axon guidance. Major forebrain connections include callosal, corticospinal, corticothalamic and thalamocortical projections. Although distinct transcriptional programs specify these subpopulations of projecting neurons, the mechanisms involved in their axonal development are similar. Guidance by short- and long-range molecular cues, interaction with intermediate target populations and activity-dependent mechanisms contribute to their development. Moreover, some of these connections interact with each other showing that the development of these axonal tracts is a well-orchestrated event. Finally, we will recapitulate recent discoveries that challenge the field of neural wiring that show that these forebrain connections can be changed once formed. The field of reprogramming has arrived to postmitotic cortical neurons and has showed us that forebrain connectivity is not immutable and might be changed by manipulations in the transcriptional program of matured cells.Neuroscience 09/2013; 254. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.08.070 · 3.33 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Formation of a 6-layered cortical plate and axon tract patterning are key features of cerebral cortex development. Abnormalities of these processes may be the underlying cause for a range of functional disabilities seen in human neurodevelopmental disorders. To identify mouse mutants with defects in cortical lamination or corticofugal axon guidance, N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) mutagenesis was performed using mice expressing LacZ reporter genes in layers II/III and V of the cortex (Rgs4-lacZ) or in corticofugal axons (TAG1-tau-lacZ). Four lines with abnormal cortical lamination have been identified. One of these was a splice site mutation in reelin (Reln) that results in a premature stop codon and the truncation of the C-terminal region (CTR) domain of reelin. Interestingly, this novel allele of Reln did not display cerebellar malformation or ataxia, and this is the first report of a Reln mutant without a cerebellar defect. Four lines with abnormal cortical axon development were also identified, one of which was found by whole-genome resequencing to carry a mutation in Lrp2. These findings demonstrated that the application of ENU mutagenesis to mice carrying transgenic reporters marking cortical anatomy is a sensitive and specific method to identify mutations that disrupt patterning of the developing brain.Cerebral Cortex 08/2013; 25(1). DOI:10.1093/cercor/bht209 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In this review we discuss recent advances in the understanding of corticothalamic axon guidance; patterning of the early telencephalon, the sequence and choreography of the development of projections from subplate, layers 5 and 6. These cortical subpopulations display different axonal outgrowth kinetics and innervate distinct thalamic nuclei in a temporal pattern determined by cortical layer identity and subclass specificity. Guidance by molecular cues, structural cues, and activity-dependent mechanisms contribute to this development. There is a substantial rearrangement of the corticofugal connectivity outside the thalamus at the border of and within the reticular thalamic nucleus, a region that shares some of the characteristics of the cortical subplate during development. The early transient circuits are not well understood, nor the extent to which this developmental pattern may be driven by peripheral sensory activity. We hypothesize that transient circuits during embryonic and early postnatal development are critical in the matching of the cortical and thalamic representations and forming the cortical circuits in the mature brain.Frontiers in Neuroscience 05/2012; 6:53. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2012.00053