A Sharp Cadherin-6 Gene Expression Boundary in the Developing Mouse Cortical Plate Demarcates the Future Functional Areal Border

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The mammalian cerebral cortex can be tangentially subdivided into tens of functional areas with distinct cyto-architectures and neural circuitries; however, it remains elusive how these areal borders are genetically elaborated during development. Here we establish original bacterial artificial chromosome transgenic mouse lines that specifically recapitulate cadherin-6 (Cdh6) mRNA expression profiles in the layer IV of the somatosensory cortex and by detailing their cortical development, we show that a sharp Cdh6 gene expression boundary is formed at a mediolateral coordinate along the cortical layer IV as early as the postnatal day 5 (P5). By further applying mouse genetics that allows rigid cell fate tracing with CreERT2 expression, it is demonstrated that the Cdh6 gene expression boundary set at around P4 eventually demarcates the areal border between the somatosensory barrel and limb field at P20. In the P6 cortical cell pellet culture system, neurons with Cdh6 expression preferentially form aggregates in a manner dependent on Ca2+ and electroporation-based Cdh6 overexpression limited to the postnatal stages perturbs area-specific cell organization in the barrel field. These results suggest that Cdh6 expression in the nascent cortical plate may serve solidification of the protomap for cortical functional areas.

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