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

at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and senior author of the study. "These findings have major implications for mechanisms of how normal stereotyped functional brain architecture develops. These patterns suggest that there are a number of additional mechanisms beyond Reelin involved in the proper migration of newly generated neurons to their correct locations, and that different cell types use different cues in that process."

The reeler mouse has a spontaneous mutation in a gene called Reelin that has been implicated in autism. Studies of these mice, which are deficient in Reelin, have elucidated the involvement of this protein and its signaling pathway in the organization of the central nervous system during development, and particularly in cortical lamination, or layering, whereby newly generated neurons migrate from their birthplace to their proper positions in the developing cortex. In the normal cortex this process results in a highly ordered architecture with different neuronal cell types restricted to specific cortical layers. With Reelin deficiency as seen in reeler mice, the migration process of newly generated neurons into the cortex is highly disrupted.

Using in situ hybridization, a technique that allows for precise localization of specific genes, Lein and collaborators were able to follow developmental expression patterns through several stages of development to describe precise effects of Reelin deficiency in several brain areas during neurodevelopment. The authors were able to identify, locate, and track several specific cell types that are abnormally positioned in reeler mice.

Vivid imagery of cortical lamination illustrates the precise disorganization that occurs in reeler neurodevelopment compared to wild type mice. The paper includes 25 figures of compelling full-color, cellular-resolution imagery, one of which is featured on the journal's cover for this issue.


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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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