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PLoS Biol. 2007 Nov;5(11):e300.

Distinct mammalian precursors are committed to generate neurons with defined dendritic projection patterns.

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Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS Biol. 2007 Dec;5(12):e336.
  • PLoS Biol. 2008 Apr 29;6(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060091.


The mechanisms that regulate how dendrites target different neurons to establish connections with specific cell types remain largely unknown. In particular, the formation of cell-type-specific connectivity during postnatal neurogenesis could be either determined by the local environment of the mature neuronal circuit or by cell-autonomous properties of the immature neurons, already determined by their precursors. Using retroviral fate mapping, we studied the lamina-specific dendritic targeting of one neuronal type as defined by its morphology and intrinsic somatic electrical properties in neonatal and adult neurogenesis. Fate mapping revealed the existence of two separate populations of neuronal precursors that gave rise to the same neuronal type with two distinct patterns of dendritic targeting-innervating either a deep or superficial lamina, where they connect to different types of principal neurons. Furthermore, heterochronic and heterotopic transplantation demonstrated that these precursors were largely restricted to generate neurons with a predetermined pattern of dendritic targeting that was independent of the host environment. Our results demonstrate that, at least in the neonatal and adult mammalian brain, the pattern of dendritic targeting of a given neuron is a cell-autonomous property of their precursors.

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