Immunohistochemical parcellation of the ferret (Mustela putorius) visual cortex reveals substantial homology with the cat (Felis catus)

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Abstract

Electrophysiological mapping of the adult ferret visual cortex has until now determined the existence of 12 retinotopically distinct areas; however, in the cat, another member of the Carnivora, 20 distinct visual areas have been identified by using retinotopic mapping and immunolabeling. In the present study, the immunohistochemical approach to demarcate the areal boundaries of the adult ferret visual cortex was applied in order to overcome the difficulties in accessing the sulcal surfaces of a small, gyrencephalic brain. Nonphosphorylated neurofilament (NNF) expression profiles were compared with another classical immunostain of cortical nuclei, Cat-301 chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG). Together, these two markers reliably demarcated the borders of the 12 previously defined areas and revealed further arealization beyond those borders to a total of 19 areas: 21a and 21b; the anterolateral, posterolateral, dorsal, and ventral lateral suprasylvian areas (ALLS, PLLS, DLS, and VLS, respectively); and the splenial and cingulate visual areas (SVA and CVA). NNF expression profile and location of the newly defined areas correlate with previously defined areas in the cat. Moreover, NNF and Cat-301 together revealed discrete expression domains in the posteroparietal (PP) cortex, demarcating four subdivisions in the caudal lateral and medial domains (PPcL and PPcM) and rostral lateral and medial domains (PPrL and PPrM), where only two retinotopic maps have been previously identified (PPc and PPr). Taken together, these studies suggest that NNF and Cat-301 can illustrate the homology between cortical areas in different species and draw out the principles that have driven evolution of the visual cortex. J. Comp. Neurol. 518:4439–4462, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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