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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Nov;116(11):1451-5. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0228-7. Epub 2009 Apr 25.

Role of Reelin in the development and maintenance of cortical lamination.

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Institut für Anatomie und Zellbiologie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Reelin is a large extracellular matrix molecule, synthesized by early generated Cajal-Retzius cells in the marginal zone of the cortex. It plays an important role in the migration of cortical neurons and the development of cortical lamination. We recently discovered that Reelin is required not only for the formation of cortical layers during development but also for their maintenance in adulthood. Thus, decreased Reelin expression in a mouse model of epilepsy and in epileptic patients was accompanied by a loss of granule cell lamination, called granule cell dispersion, in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation. Moreover, antibody blockade of Reelin in normal, adult mice resulted in granule cell dispersion. Collectively these findings point to a role for Reelin in the formation and maintenance of a laminated cortical structure. How does Reelin act on the cytoskeleton in the migration process of cortical neurons? It has been shown that Reelin signalling involves the lipoprotein receptors apolipoprotein E receptor 2 and very low density lipoprotein receptor, the adapter protein Disabled1, and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase, but it has remained unclear how activation of the Reelin signalling cascade controls cytoskeletal reorganization. Here, we provide evidence that Reelin signalling leads to serine3 phosphorylation of cofilin, an actin-depolymerizing protein that promotes the disassembly of F-actin. Phosphorylation at serine3 renders cofilin unable to depolymerize F-actin, thereby stabilizing the cytoskeleton. Phosphorylation of cofilin in the leading processes of migrating neurons anchors them to the marginal zone containing Reelin. Our results indicate that Reelin-induced stabilization of the neuronal cytoskeleton is an important component of Reelin's function in the development and maintenance of cortical architecture.

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