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Neuron. 2005 Mar 3;45(5):701-13.

GDNF and GFRalpha1 promote differentiation and tangential migration of cortical GABAergic neurons.

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Division of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, S-17177 Stockholm, Sweden.


Cortical GABAergic neurons are generated in the ventral telencephalon and migrate dorsally into the cortex following a tangential path. GDNF signaling via GFRalpha1 was found to promote the differentiation of ventral precursors into GABAergic cells, enhancing their neuronal morphology and motility. GDNF stimulated axonal growth in cortical GABAergic neurons and acted as a potent chemoattractant of GABAergic cells. These effects required GFRalpha1 but neither RET nor NCAM, the two transmembrane signaling receptors known for GDNF. Mutant mice lacking GDNF or GFRalpha1, but neither RET nor NCAM, showed reduced numbers of GABAergic cells in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. We conclude that one of the normal functions of GDNF signaling via GFRalpha1 in the developing brain is to promote the differentiation and migration of cortical GABAergic neurons. The lack of involvement of RET or NCAM in these processes suggests the existence of additional transmembrane effectors for GDNF.

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