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Neuroscience. 1999 Mar;89(2):409-21.

Transplants of fetal frontal cortex grafted into the occipital cortex of newborn rats receive a substantial thalamic input from nuclei normally projecting to the frontal cortex.

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1
UMR 6558, Département des Neurosciences, Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Poitiers, France.

Abstract

A number of molecular and hodological experiments have provided evidence that there is an early commitment of neocortical neurons to express features unique to a certain cortical area. However, the findings of several transplantation experiments have indicated that late embryonic cortical tissue heterotopically grafted into the neocortex of newborn rats receives a set of thalamic projections appropriate for the host cortical locus within which it develops. To provide further information on the extent to which neocortical neurons are predetermined to develop area-specific systems of connections, in this study we have compared the pattern of thalamic afferents to grafts of embryonic day 16 occipital or frontal neocortex transplanted into the occipital cortex of newborn rats. Two months after grafting, a retrograde neurotracer (cholera toxin, subunit b) was injected into the grafts to precisely assess the number of cells in the visual- and/or motor-related nuclei of the host thalamus projecting to each category of transplants (occipital-to-occipital or frontal-to-occipital). Transplants of embryonic occipital cortex received significant input from several visual-related thalamic nuclei, i.e. the lateral posterior and lateral dorsal nuclei, and no input from motor-related thalamic nuclei. However, only few labeled cells were found in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus, which was systematically affected by a severe atrophy, probably in response to the lesion of the occipital cortex performed prior to the transplantation. By comparison, transplants of frontal origin received a substantial input from the ventrolateral and ventromedial thalamic nuclei, which normally project to the frontal cortex, but received a weak input from the lateral posterior and lateral dorsal nuclei. Neocortical neurons grafted heterotopically into the neocortex of newborn hosts are not only able to contact cortical and subcortical targets appropriate for their embryonic site of origin, but are also susceptible to derive thalamic inputs closely related to their embryonic origin.

PMID:
10077323
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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