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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Feb 14;109(7):2630-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1111326109. Epub 2012 Jan 30.

Light stimuli control neuronal migration by altering of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling.

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Department of Neurosciences, Lerner Research Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The role of genetic inheritance in brain development has been well characterized, but little is known about the contributions of natural environmental stimuli, such as the effect of light-dark cycles, to brain development. In this study, we determined the role of light stimuli in neuronal cell migration to elucidate how environmental factors regulate brain development. We show that in early postnatal mouse cerebella, granule cell migration accelerates during light cycles and decelerates during dark cycles. Furthermore, cerebellar levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are high during light cycles and low during dark cycles. There are causal relationships between light-dark cycles, speed of granule cell migration, and cerebellar IGF-1 levels. First, changes in light-dark cycles result in corresponding changes in the fluctuations of both speed of granule cell migration and cerebellar IGF-1 levels. Second, in vitro studies indicate that exogenous IGF-1 accelerates the migration of isolated granule cells through the activation of IGF-1 receptors. Third, in vivo studies reveal that inhibiting the IGF-1 receptors decelerates granule cell migration during light cycles (high IGF-1 levels) but does not alter migration during dark cycles (low IGF-1 levels). In contrast, stimulating the IGF-1 receptors accelerates granule cell migration during dark cycles (low IGF-1 levels) but does not alter migration during light cycles (high IGF-1 levels). These results suggest that during early postnatal development light stimuli control granule cell migration by altering the activity of IGF-1 receptors through modification of cerebellar IGF-1 levels.

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