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J Neurosci. 2012 Aug 29;32(35):12051-65.

Cell-autonomous inactivation of the reelin pathway impairs adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

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Developmental Neurobiology and Regeneration Laboratory, IRB Barcelona, Parc Cientific de Barcelona, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED, ISCIII), Department of Cell Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona E-08028, Spain.


Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is thought to be essential for learning and memory, and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several disorders. Although recent studies have identified key factors regulating neuroprogenitor proliferation in the adult hippocampus, the mechanisms that control the migration and integration of adult-born neurons into circuits are largely unknown. Reelin is an extracellular matrix protein that is vital for neuronal development. Activation of the Reelin cascade leads to phosphorylation of Disabled-1, an adaptor protein required for Reelin signaling. Here we used transgenic mouse and retroviral reporters along with Reelin signaling gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies to show that the Reelin pathway regulates migration and dendritic development of adult-generated hippocampal neurons. Whereas overexpression of Reelin accelerated dendritic maturation, inactivation of the Reelin signaling pathway specifically in adult neuroprogenitor cells resulted in aberrant migration, decreased dendrite development, formation of ectopic dendrites in the hilus, and the establishment of aberrant circuits. Our findings support a cell-autonomous and critical role for the Reelin pathway in regulating dendritic development and the integration of adult-generated granule cells and point to this pathway as a key regulator of adult neurogenesis. Moreover, our data reveal a novel role of the Reelin cascade in adult brain function with potential implications for the pathogenesis of several neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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