Neuronal Migration in the Developing Cerebral Cortex: Observations Based on Real-time Imaging

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We have used time-lapse imaging of acute cortical slices to study the migration of neurons from their sites of origin to their positions in the developing neocortex. We found that two distinct modes of cell movement, somal translocation and glia-guided locomotion, are responsible for the radial migration of neurons generated in the cortical ventricular zone. The former is the prevalent form of radial movement of the early-born cortical neurons, while the latter is adopted by those generated later in corticogenesis. Interneurons, found to originate in the ganglionic eminence, follow tangential migratory paths to reach the developing cortex. Upon reaching the cortex, these cells seek the ventricular zone using a mode of movement that we have termed ‘ventricle-directed migration’, before they migrate to their positions in the cortical plate. In addition to these forms of movement, we report here a unique morphological and migratory behavior for a population of cortical neurons. These cells are multipolar in form, and are highly motile in the formation and retraction of their processes. Based on these morphological features, we refer to this type of cells as ‘branching cells’ and attribute the phenotype to a subset of cortical interneurons.

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