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J Neurosci. 2010 Mar 24;30(12):4197-209. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4187-09.2010.

Gap junctions/hemichannels modulate interkinetic nuclear migration in the forebrain precursors.

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Department of Neurobiology and Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


During mitotic division in the telencephalic proliferative ventricular zone (VZ), the nuclei of the neural precursors move basally away from the ventricular surface for DNA synthesis, and apically return to the surface for mitotic division; a process known as interkinetic migration or "to-and-fro" nuclear translocation. The cell, which remains attached to the ventricular surface, either continues cycling, or exits the cycle and migrates to the subventricular zone or the developing cortical plate. Although gap junctions/hemichannels are known to modulate DNA synthesis via Ca(2+) waves, the role of Ca(+) oscillations and the mechanism of nuclear translocation in the VZ precursors are unclear. Here, we provide evidence that, during apical nuclear migration, VZ precursors display dynamic spontaneous Ca(2+) transients, which depend on functional gap junctions/hemichannels via ATP release and Ca(2+)-mobilizing messenger diffusion. Furthermore, we found that blocking gap junctions/hemichannels or short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of Cx43 (connexin 43) retards the apically directed interkinetic nuclear migration accompanied with changes in the nuclear length/width ratio. In addition, we demonstrated that blocking functional gap junctions/hemichannels induces phosphorylation of small GTPase cdc42 in the VZ precursors. The basal phase of interkinetic migration is much slower and appears to be mediated passively by mechanical forces after cell division. Our findings indicate that functional interference with gap junctions/hemichannels during embryonic development may lead to abnormal corticogenesis and dysfunction of the cerebral cortex in adult organisms.

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