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Novel analysis by Allen Institute sheds new light on the mechanisms of brain development
Date:8/1/2011

SEATTLE, WASH. August 1, 2011 Scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science have taken an important step in identifying how the brain organizes itself during development. The findings, published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology today, describe in more detail than ever before the consequences of the loss of a key molecule involved in establishing proper brain architecture during brain development.

The study calls into question the current textbook explanation of abnormal brain development in a well-studied strain of mouse known as reeler, named for its abnormal "reeling" gait, which has been integral in understanding how neurons migrate to their correct locations during brain development. Whereas the reeler cortex has been described for many years as being "inverted" compared to the normal neocortex, the paper published today finds that this abnormal layering is far more complex, more closely resembling a mirror-image inversion of normal cortical layering. Furthermore, the degree of disorganization differs for different cell types in different parts of the brain, suggesting that the correct patterning of the brain involves a complex set of processes selective for specific cell types.

The approach used in this study capitalizes on the combination of systematic high-throughput histology with the wealth of highly specific cellular markers, which were identified by mining for genes with specific expression patterns in the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas, a genome-wide map of gene expression in the adult mouse brain. The authors used a novel approach to employ the most precise molecular markers to date to identify features of cortical disorganization in the male reeler mouse that were unidentifiable with less specific methods previously available.

"To our surprise, we observed unexpected cellular patterning that is difficult to explain by current models of neocortical development," said Ed Lein, Senior Director, Neuroscience
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Contact: Steven Cooper
Steven.Cooper@Edelman.com
646-358-2765
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Source:Eurekalert

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