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 April 24, 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 April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. 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