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Brain Building: Brain Growth Tied To Cell Division In Mouse Embryos

Date:
April 6, 2009
Source:
Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
How your brain grows might come down to how your cells divide. Scientists report that mouse protein Vangl2 controls the asymmetrical cell division and developmental fate of progenitor neurons.
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Early-born neurons (green) are more abundant in the Vangl2-lacking mouse embryo brain (bottom) due to premature progenitor differentiation.
Credit: Lake, B.B., and S.Y. Sokol. 2009. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200807073

How your brain grows might come down to how your cells divide. In the April 6 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), Lake and Sokol report that mouse protein Vangl2 controls the asymmetrical cell division and developmental fate of progenitor neurons.

Vangl2 (aka Strabismus in flies) is a component of the PCP (planar cell polarity) pathway that is active in a variety of tissues and organisms. Mice that lack Vangl2 have a number of neurological defects including incomplete neural tube closure and reduced brain size.

Sokol and Lake wondered how Vangl2 might influence brain development. In the cerebral cortex, neurons are born from a pool of progenitor cells, and the time of their birth determines their fate. The research duo found that Vangl2-lacking mouse embryos had large numbers of early-born neurons and few remaining progenitor cells. This hinted that Vangl2-lacking neurons were differentiating prematurely—a suspicion confirmed in vitro.

The progenitor pool is maintained by asymmetrical division—one daughter cell becomes a neuron, the other self-renews. This fate asymmetry is thought to depend on the orientation of cell division, and the authors observed an increase in the number of symmetrically dividing progenitors in the brains of Vangl2-lacking mouse embryos. Also, Vangl2-lacking cells in culture showed symmetrical distribution of a spindle-orienting factor that in normal cells distributes asymmetrically.

Such similarities between Vangl2-lacking cells in vitro and in vivo will facilitate ongoing studies of the PCP pathway in neurogenesis.

Journal reference: Lake, B.B., and S.Y. Sokol. 2009. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200807073


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Rockefeller University Press. "Brain Building: Brain Growth Tied To Cell Division In Mouse Embryos." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330091603.htm>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2009, April 6). Brain Building: Brain Growth Tied To Cell Division In Mouse Embryos. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330091603.htm
Rockefeller University Press. "Brain Building: Brain Growth Tied To Cell Division In Mouse Embryos." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330091603.htm (accessed July 4, 2015).

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