[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cognition and behavior depend on the precise placement and interconnection of complex ensembles of neurons in cerebral cortex. Mutations that disrupt migration of immature neurons from the ventricular zone to the cortical plate have provided major insight into mechanisms of brain development and disease. We have discovered a new and highly penetrant spontaneous mutation that leads to large nodular bilateral subcortical heterotopias with partial callosal agenesis. The mutant phenotype was first detected in a colony of fully inbred BXD29 mice already known to harbor a mutation in Tlr4. Neurons confined to the heterotopias are mainly born in midgestation to late gestation and would normally have migrated into layers 2-4 of overlying neocortex. Callosal cross-sectional area and fiber number are reduced up to 50% compared with coisogenic wildtype BXD29 substrain controls. Mutants have a pronounced and highly selective defect in rapid auditory processing. The segregation pattern of the mutant phenotype is most consistent with a two-locus autosomal recessive model, and selective genotyping definitively rules out the Tlr4 mutation as a cause. The discovery of a novel mutation with strong pleiotropic anatomical and behavioral effects provides an important new resource for dissecting molecular mechanisms and functional consequences of errors of neuronal migration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The corpus callosum is the main commissure connecting left and right cerebral hemispheres, and varies widely in size. Differences in the midsagittal area of the corpus callosum (MSACC) have been associated with a number of cognitive and behavioral phenotypes, including obsessive-compulsive disorders, psychopathy, suicidal tendencies, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although there is evidence to suggest that MSACC is heritable in normal human populations, there is surprisingly little evidence concerning the genetic modulation of this variation. Mice provide a potentially ideal tool to dissect the genetic modulation of MSACC. Here, we use a large genetic reference panel - the BXD recombinant inbred line - to dissect the natural variation of the MSACC. We estimated the MSACC in over 300 individuals from nearly 80 strains. We found a 4-fold difference in MSACC between individual mice, and a 2.5-fold difference among strains. MSACC is a highly heritable trait (h(2) = 0.60), and we mapped a suggestive QTL to the distal portion of Chr 14. Using sequence data and neocortical expression databases, we were able to identify eight positional and plausible biological candidate genes within this interval. Finally, we found that MSACC correlated with behavioral traits associated with anxiety and attention.