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J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):7881-8.

The medial ganglionic eminence gives rise to a population of early neurons in the developing cerebral cortex.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.


During development of the neocortex, the marginal zone (layer I) and the subplate (layer VII) are the first layers to form from a primordial plexiform neoropil. The cortical plate (layers II-VI) is subsequently established between these superficial and deep components of the primordial plexiform neuropil. Neurons in the early zones are thought to play important roles in the formation of the cortex: the Cajal-Retzius cells of the marginal zone are instrumental in neuronal migration and laminar formation, and cells of the subplate are involved in the formation of cortical connections. Using the fluorescent tracer 1,1'-dioctodecyl-3,3,3', 3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine (DiI), we have shown here that a substantial proportion of neurons of the marginal zone, including cells with features of Cajal-Retzius cells, and of the subplate and lower intermediate zone are not born in the ventricular neuroepithelium but instead originate in the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE), the pallidal primordium. These neurons follow a tangential migratory route to their positions in the developing cortex. They express the neurotransmitter GABA but seem to lack the calcium binding protein calretinin; some migrating cells found in the marginal zone express reelin. In addition, migrating cells express the LIM-homeobox gene Lhx6, a characteristic marker of the MGE. It is suggested that this gene uniquely or in combination with other transcription factors may be involved in the decision of MGE cells to differentiate in situ or migrate to the neocortex.

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