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Neuron. 2003 Oct 30;40(3):501-14.

FAK deficiency in cells contributing to the basal lamina results in cortical abnormalities resembling congenital muscular dystrophies.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Targeted deletion of focal adhesion kinase (fak) in the developing dorsal forebrain resulted in local disruptions of the cortical basement membrane located between the neuroepithelium and pia-meninges. At disruption sites, clusters of neurons invaded the marginal zone. Retraction of radial glial endfeet, midline fusion of brain hemispheres, and gliosis also occurred, similar to type II cobblestone lissencephaly as seen in congenital muscular dystrophy. Interestingly, targeted deletion of fak in neurons alone did not result in cortical ectopias, indicating that fak deletion from glia is required for neuronal mislocalization. Unexpectedly, fak deletion specifically from meningeal fibroblasts elicited similar cortical ectopias in vivo and altered laminin organization in vitro. These observations provide compelling evidence that FAK plays a key signaling role in cortical basement membrane assembly and/or remodeling. In addition, FAK is required within neurons during development because neuron-specific fak deletion alters dendritic morphology in the absence of lamination defects.

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