The G1 Restriction Point as Critical Regulator of Neocortical Neuronogenesis*

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Abstract

Neuronogenesis in the pseudostratified ventricular epithelium is the initial process in a succession of histogenetic events which give rise to the laminate neocortex. Here we review experimental findings in mouse which support the thesis that the restriction point of the G1 phase of the cell cycle is the critical point of regulation of the overall neuronogenetic process. The neuronogenetic interval in mouse spans 6 days. In the course of these 6 days the founder population and its progeny execute 11 cell cycles. With each successive cycle there is an increase in the fraction of postmitotic cells which leaves the cycle (the Q fraction) and also an increase in the length of the cell cycle due to an increase in the length of the G1 phase of the cycle. Q corresponds to the probability that postmitotic cells will exit the cycle at the restriction point of the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Q increases non-linearly, but the rate of change of Q with cycle (i.e., the first derivative) over the course of the neuronogenetic interval is a constant, k, which appears to be set principally by cell internal mechanisms which are species specific. Q also seems to be modulated, but at low amplitude, by a balance of mitogenic and antimitogenic influences acting from without the cell. We suggest that intracellular signal transduction systems control a general advance of Q during development and thereby determine the general developmental plan (i.e., cell number and laminar composition) of the neocortex and that external mitogens and anti-mitogens modulate this advance regionally and temporally and thereby produce regional modifications of the general plan.

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