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J Comp Neurol. 1997 Feb 10;378(2):173-9.

Abnormal reorganization of preplate neurons and their associated extracellular matrix: an early manifestation of altered neocortical development in the reeler mutant mouse.

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Department of Cell Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The formation of the distinct layers of the cerebral cortex begins when cortical plate neurons take up positions within the extracellular matrix (ECM)-rich preplate, dividing it into the marginal zone above and the subplate below. We have analyzed this process in the reeler mutant mouse, in which cortical lamination is severely disrupted. The recent observation that the product of the reeler gene is an ECM-like protein that is expressed by cells of the marginal zone indicates a critical role for ECM in cortical lamination. We have found that preplate cells in normal cortex that are tagged during their terminal division with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) are closely associated with chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), which were identified by immunolabeling; this association is maintained in the marginal zone and subplate after the preplate is divided by cortical plate formation. Cortical plate cells do not aggregate within the preplate in reeler; instead, preplate cells remain as an undivided superficial layer containing abundant CSPGs, and cortical plate neurons accumulate below them. These findings indicate that preplate cells are responsible for the formation of a localized ECM, because the association of CSPGs with preplate cells is maintained even when these cells are in abnormal positions. The failure of cortical plate neurons to aggregate within the framework of the preplate and its associated ECM and to divide it is one of the earliest structural abnormalities detectable in reeler cortex, suggesting that this step is important for the subsequent formation of cortical layers.

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