Birth, survival and differentiation of neurons in an adult crustacean brain

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Life-long neurogenesis is a characteristic feature of many vertebrate and invertebrate species. In decapod crustaceans, new neurons are added throughout life to two cell clusters containing local (cluster 9) and projection (cluster 10) interneurons in the olfactory pathway. Adult-born neurons in clusters 9 and 10 in crayfish have the anatomical properties and chemistry of mature neurons by 6 months after birth. Here we use 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation to pulse label mitotically active cells in these cell clusters, followed by a survival time of up to 8 months, during which crayfish (Cherax destructor) were sacrificed at intervals and the numbers of BrdU-labeled cells quantified. We find a decrease in the numbers of BrdU-labeled cells in cell cluster 10 between the first and second weeks following BrdU exposure, suggesting a period of cell death shortly after proliferation. Additional delayed cell divisions in both cell clusters are indicated by increases in labeled cells long after the BrdU clearing time. The differentiation time of these cells into neurons was defined by detection of the first immunoreactivity for the transmitter SIFamide in cluster 10 BrdU-labeled cells, which begins at 4 weeks after BrdU labeling; the numbers of SIFamide-labeled cells continues to increase over the following month. Experiments testing whether proliferation and survival of Cluster 10 cells are influenced by locomotor activity provided no evidence of a correlation between activity levels and cell proliferation, but suggest a strong influence of locomotor activity on cell survival.

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