Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Essential genetic mechanism of cerebral cortex development discovered

Date:
September 19, 2013
Source:
Libre de Bruxelles, Université
Summary:
The cerebral cortex is the most complex and vital structure in our brain. It is the nerve centre for those “higher” functions that characterize our species, such as language and abstract thought. The nerve cells – or neurons – which comprise the cortex are key elements in ensuring its functions effectively. They are also targeted by numerous neurological and psychiatric illnesses, such as epilepsy, autism, and Alzheimer's.

The cerebral cortex is the most complex and vital structure in our brain. It is the nerve centre for those "higher" functions that characterise our species, such as language and abstract thought. The nerve cells -- or neurons -- which comprise the cortex are key elements in ensuring its functions effectively. They are also targeted by numerous neurological and psychiatric illnesses (epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer´s).

Related Articles


Specifically, the complex functions of the cortex depend upon the precise alignment of nerve cells or neurons, which are arranged in "layers" and "columns". This precise structure provides the fundamental basis for cortical functions. Nerve cells are arranged in layers and columns during embryonic development. If the process is disrupted, various illnesses can occur (epilepsy, mental retardation and especially autistic syndromes). Whilst there is an increasing understanding of the mechanisms involved in the construction of cortical layers, those that control the formation of the columns remain a mystery.

The work of a research team, led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Jordane Dimidschstein (ULB, WELBIO, IRIBHM and the ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI)), offers new perspectives on the cortical structure´s development. The team discovered a mechanism underlying the arrangement of cortical neurons in columns. This work is to be published on 18 September 2013 in the journal Neuron1.

Using the mouse cerebral cortex as a model, researchers at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, School of Medicine) initially discovered that a nerve cell signalling factor, called ephrin-B1, can act as a guide, helping nerve cells from the cortex to form columns. The researchers subsequently observed that the ephrin-B1 signal acts at a very early stage in embryonic development, when the newly-produced cortical nerve cells actively move throughout the brain to reach the cerebral cortex. The researchers made the interesting finding that it is the level of ephrin signal that influences the way in which cells are arranged in a columnar fashion. An increase in the ephriB signal will force the nerve cells to migrate in a "tight formation," which makes the cortical columns narrower. A reduction in the ephrin-B signal, on the other hand, will enable nerve cells to migrate more broadly, thus producing more sparsely-grouped columns.

These advances have significant implications. On a fundamental level, this research will enable us to gain a greater understanding of an essential, yet little known, aspect of cortex development: the construction of the cortical columns. Cortical column anomalies were reported in several different neurological and psychiatric diseases. Identifying genes involved in this process thus offers new perspectives for improving our understanding of these conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Libre de Bruxelles, Université. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jordane Dimidschstein, Lara Passante, Audrey Dufour, Jelle van den Ameele, Luca Tiberi, Tatyana Hrechdakian, Ralf Adams, Rüdiger Klein, Dieter Chichung Lie, Yves Jossin, Pierre Vanderhaeghen. Ephrin-B1 Controls the Columnar Distribution of Cortical Pyramidal Neurons by Restricting Their Tangential Migration. Neuron, 2013; 79 (6): 1123 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.015

Cite This Page:

Libre de Bruxelles, Université. "Essential genetic mechanism of cerebral cortex development discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085630.htm>.
Libre de Bruxelles, Université. (2013, September 19). Essential genetic mechanism of cerebral cortex development discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085630.htm
Libre de Bruxelles, Université. "Essential genetic mechanism of cerebral cortex development discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085630.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins