Cajal-Retzius (CR) cells are essential for cortical development and lamination. These pioneer neurons arise from distinct progenitor sources, including the cortical hem and the ventral pallium at pallium-subpallium boundary (PSB). CXCR4, the canonical receptor for the chemokine CXCL12, controls the superficial location of hem-derived CR cells. However, recent studies showed that CXCR7, a second CXCL12 receptor, is also expressed in CR cells at early developmental stages. We thus investigated the role of CXCR7 during CR cell development using multiple loss-of-function approaches. Cxcr7 gene inactivation led to aberrant localization of Reelin-positive cells within the pallium. In addition, Cxcr7(-/-) mice were characterized by significant accumulation of ectopic CR cells in the lateral part of the dorsal pallium compared with Cxcr4 knockout mice. Loss-of-function approaches, using either gene targeting or pharmacological receptor inhibition, reveal that CXCR7 and CXCR4 act both in CR positioning. Finally, conditional Cxcr7 deletion in cells derived from Dbx1-expressing progenitors indicates an essential role of CXCR7 in controlling the positioning of a subpopulation of PSB-derived CR cells. Our data demonstrate that CXCR7 has a role in the positioning of hem and PSB-derived CR cells, CXCL12 regulating CR cell subpial localization through the combined action of CXCR4 and CXCR7.
We used several animal models to study global and regional cortical surface expansion: The lissencephalic mouse, gyrencephalic normal ferrets, in which the parietal cortex expands more than the temporal cortex, and moderately lissencephalic ferrets, showing a similar degree of temporal and parietal expansion. We found that overall cortical surface expansion is achieved when specific events occur prior to surpragranular layer formation. (1) The subventricular zone (SVZ) shows substantial growth, (2) the inner SVZ contains an increased number of outer radial glia and intermediate progenitor cells expressing Pax6, and (3) the outer SVZ contains a progenitor cell composition similar to the combined VZ and inner SVZ. A greater parietal expansion is also achieved by eliminating the latero-dorsal neurogenic gradient, so that neurogenesis displays a similar developmental degree between parietal and temporal regions. In contrast, mice or lissencephalic ferrets show more advanced neurogenesis in the temporal region. In conclusion, we propose that global and regional cortical surface expansion rely on similar strategies consisting in altering the timing of neurogenic events prior to the surpragranular layer formation, so that more progenitor cells, and ultimately more neurons, are produced. This hypothesis is supported by findings from a ferret model of lissencephaly obtained by transiently blocking neurogenesis during the formation of layer IV.
Radial glial cells play an essential role during corticogenesis through their function as neural precursors and guides of neuronal migration. Both reelin and neuregulin1 (NRG1) maintain the radial glial scaffold; they also induce expression of Brain Lipid Binding Protein (BLBP), a well known marker of radial glia. Although radial glia in normal ferrets express both vimentin and BLBP, this coexpression diverges at P3; vimentin is expressed in the radial glial processes, while BLBP appears in cells detached from the ventricular zone. Our lab developed a model of cortical dysplasia in the ferret, resulting in impaired migration of neurons into the cortical plate and disordered radial glia. This occurs after exposure to the antimitotic methylazoxymethanol (MAM) on the 24th day of development (E24). Ferrets treated with MAM on E24 result in an overall decrease of BLBP expression; radial glia that continue to express BLBP, however, show only mild disruption compared with the strongly disrupted vimentin expressing radial glia. When E24 MAM-treated organotypic slices are exposed to reelin or NRG1, the severely disrupted vimentin+ radial glial processes are repaired but the slightly disordered BLBP+ processes are not. The realignment of vimentin+ processes was linked with an increase of their BLBP expression. BLBP expressing radial glia are distinguished by being both less affected by MAM treatment and by attempts at repair. We further investigated the effects induced by reelin and found that signaling was mediated via VLDLR/Dab1/Pi3K activation while NRG1 signaling was mediated via erbB3/erbB4/Pi3K. We then tested whether radial glial repair correlated with improved neuronal migration. Repairing the radial glial scaffold is not sufficient to restore neuronal migration; although reelin improves migration of neurons toward the cortical plate signaling through ApoER2/Dab1/PI3K activation, NRG1 does not.
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