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Biochem Pharmacol. 1998 Dec 1;56(11):1403-9.

A new view of early cortical development.

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  • 1Neurobiology Unit, University of Namur School of Medicine, Belgium.


Recently, several genes that regulate the development of the cerebral cortex and are potential pharmacological targets have been cloned. Reelin, an extracellular matrix glycoprotein secreted by Cajal-Retzius cells in the marginal zone, instructs the radial organization of the cortical plate. The response of cortical plate cells to reelin requires the tyrosine kinase adaptor disabled-1 (Dab1). Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and its activator p35 are necessary for the development of the cortical plate, probably at a later stage than reelin/Dab1. The transcription factor Tbr-1 is essential for differentiation of preplate and Cajal-Retzius cells and for formation of thalamocortical connections, while D1x-1/2 are required for tangential migration. Some neurotrophin systems such as neurotrophin 4, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neuregulin and its receptor ErbB are also thought to assist in the regulation of cortical development. In addition, a few genes implicated in human cortical dysplasias have been characterized. LIS1 encodes a protein related to platelet-activating factor acetyl hydrolase that is defective in lissencephaly-1 of the Miller-Dieker type, while the double cortex malformation is related to mutations of a new gene dubbed doublecortn.

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