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Dev Biol. 2008 Jan 15;313(2):648-58. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

The role of Slit-Robo signaling in the generation, migration and morphological differentiation of cortical interneurons.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


Cortical interneurons in rodents are generated in the ventral telencephalon and migrate tangentially into the cortex. This process requires the coordinated action of many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Here we show that Robo1 and Robo2 receptor proteins are dynamically expressed throughout the period of corticogenesis and colocalize with interneuronal markers, suggesting that they play a role in the migration of these cells. Analysis of Robo mutants showed a marked increase in the number of interneurons in the cortices of Robo1(-/-), but not Robo2(-/-), animals throughout the period of corticogenesis and in adulthood; this excess number of interneurons was observed in all layers of the developing cortex. Using BrdU incorporation in dissociated cell cultures and phosphohistone-3 labeling in vivo, we demonstrated that the increased number of interneurons in Robo1(-/-) mice is, at least in part, due to increased proliferation. Interestingly, a similar increase in proliferation was observed in Slit1(-/-)/Slit2(-/-) mutant mice, suggesting that cell division is influenced by Slit-Robo signaling mechanisms. Morphometric analysis of migrating interneurons in Robo1(-/-), Robo2(-/-) and Slit1(-/-)/Slit2(-/-), but not in Slit1(-/-) mice, showed a differential increase in neuronal process length and branching suggesting that Slit-Robo signaling also plays an important role in the morphological differentiation of these neurons.

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