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).

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 August 21, 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 August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A CDC report says birth rates among teenagers have been declining for decades, reaching a new low in 2013. We look at several popular explanations. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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