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Neuron. 1999 Dec;24(4):847-59.

The nuclear orphan receptor COUP-TFI is required for differentiation of subplate neurons and guidance of thalamocortical axons.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Chicken ovalbumin upstream promotor-transcription factor I (COUP-TFI), an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, is highly expressed in the developing nervous systems. In the cerebral cortex of Coup-tfl mutants, cortical layer IV was absent due to excessive cell death, a consequence of the failure of thalamocortical projections. Moreover, subplate neurons underwent improper differentiation and premature cell death during corticogenesis. Our results indicate that the subplate neuron defects lead to the failure of guidance and innervation of thalamocortical projections. Thus, our findings demonstrate a critical role of the subplate in early corticothalamic connectivity and confirm the importance of afferent innervation for the survival of layer IV neurons. These results also substantiate COUP-TFI as an important regulator of neuronal development and differentiation.

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