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Development. 2004 Jul;131(13):3093-105. Epub 2004 May 26.

Presenilin 1 in migration and morphogenesis in the central nervous system.

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Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Chicago, 947 E. 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Morphogenesis of the central nervous system relies in large part upon the correct migration of neuronal cells from birthplace to final position. Two general modes of migration govern CNS morphogenesis: radial, which is mostly glia-guided and topologically relatively simple; and tangential, which often involves complex movement of neurons in more than one direction. We describe the consequences of loss of function of presenilin 1 on these fundamental processes. Previous studies of the central nervous system in presenilin 1 homozygote mutant embryos identified a premature neuronal differentiation that is transient and localized, with cortical dysplasia at later stages. We document widespread effects on CNS morphogenesis that appear strongly linked to defective neuronal migration. Loss of presenilin 1 function perturbs both radial and tangential migration in cerebral cortex, and several tangential migratory pathways in the brainstem. The inability of cells to execute their migratory trajectories affects cortical lamination, formation of the facial branchiomotor nucleus, the spread of cerebellar granule cell precursors to form the external granule layer and development of the pontine nuclei. Finally, overall morphogenesis of the mid-hindbrain region is abnormal, resulting in incomplete midline fusion of the cerebellum and overgrowth of the caudal midbrain. These observations indicate that in the absence of presenilin 1 function, the ability of a cell to move can be severely impaired regardless of its mode of migration, and, at a grosser level, brain morphogenesis is perturbed. Our results demonstrate that presenilin 1 plays a much more important role in brain development than has been assumed, consistent with a pleiotropic involvement of this molecule in cellular signaling.

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