Architectonic Subdivisions of Neocortex in the Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri)



Tree shrews are small mammals that bear some semblance to squirrels, but are actually close relatives of primates. Thus, they have been extensively studied as a model for the early stages of primate evolution. In this study, subdivisions of cortex were reconstructed from brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal, or horizontal planes, and processed for parvalbumin, SMI-32-immunopositive neurofilament protein epitopes, vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2), free ionic zinc, myelin, cytochrome oxidase, and Nissl substance. These different procedures revealed similar boundaries between areas, suggesting the detection of functionally relevant borders and allowed a more precise demarcation of cortical areal boundaries. Primary cortical areas were most clearly revealed by the zinc stain, because of the poor staining of layer 4, as thalamocortical terminations lack free ionic zinc. Area 17 (V1) was especially prominent, as the broad layer 4 was nearly free of zinc stain. However, this feature was less pronounced in primary auditory and somatosensory cortex. In primary sensory areas, thalamocortical terminations in layer 4 densely express VGluT2. Auditory cortex consists of two architectonically distinct subdivisions, a primary core region (Ac), surrounded by a belt region (Ab) that had a slightly less developed koniocellular appearance. Primary motor cortex (M1) was identified by the absence of VGluT2 staining in the poorly developed granular layer 4 and the presence of SMI-32-labeled pyramidal cells in layers 3 and 5. The presence of well-differentiated cortical areas in tree shrews indicates their usefulness in studies of cortical organization and function. Anat Rec, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.