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J Comp Neurol. 1983 Sep 10;219(2):182-202.

Thalamocortical projections in the reeler mutant mouse.


The normal radial distribution of the different neocortical cell classes is inverted in the reeler mutant mouse. The organization of the thalamocortical projection in adult reelers has been investigated by using anterograde degeneration techniques. Thalamocortical axons follow anomalous trajectories to their target cytoarchitectonic fields in the mutant. After leaving the internal capsule, the axons ascend in sigmoid-shaped fascicles to enter a fiber stratum near the cortical surface. The axons course through this superficial stratum until they reach their target fields and then descend to terminate in deeper cortical planes. In the normal animal, by contrast, the axons course tangentially at the interface of the cortex with the subcortical white matter; upon reaching their target fields, they ascend to terminate more superficially in the cortex. Thus, in both genotypes the tangential portions of the axon trajectories pass through the polymorphic cell population. Both with respect to degree of divergence and the radial distribution of terminals within the different cytoarchitectonic fields, the thalamocortical projection in reeler, like that in the normal animal, appears to be composed of two distinct axon classes. The "class I" axons, the less-divergent system which terminates densely in two or three tiers within the cortex, are the subject of the present analysis. The "class I" projections form an orderly cortical representation of the thalamus: Despite distortions in the topography of the reeler thalamus and cortex, both the nucleus to field relationships and the detailed topologic organization of the projection appear to be normal. The terminals of class I projections are distributed in radially segregated tiers that resemble the tiered pattern of termination as in normal mice, and there are field-specific variations in the tiers that, like those of normal mice, are systematically related to variations of cortical cytoarchitecture. Thus, similar mechanisms, which may depend in part on the interaction of ingrowing axons with specific postsynaptic cell surfaces, must determine the restricted radial distribution of thalamocortical projections in both genotypes. However, there is an abnormal mix of somata and dendrites at all radial levels of the mutant cortex, suggesting that the spatial domain of termination of thalamocortical axons may be governed to some extent by factors other than the distribution of specific prospective postsynaptic cell surfaces. The reeler mutation alters the radial but not the tangential structure of the neocortex, suggesting that these two aspects of cortical organization develop under the control of independent mechanisms. The present results suggest that despite the anomalies of radial position, normal relationships between thalamocortical afferents and distinct classes of postsynaptic elements with characteristic radial distributions are largely conserved in reeler. Certain types of aberrant connections are highly probable, however.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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