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Keywords:

  • axon guidance;
  • morphogenesis;
  • radial glia;
  • glia-neuron interactions;
  • GFAP;
  • axon boundaries;
  • corpus callosum

Abstract

During normal development of the mammalian forebrain, the paired cerebral hemispheres are initially separated midsagittally by the connective tissue-filled longitudinal fissure. During subsequent stages, the hemispheres fuse as basal lamina is remodeled and fibroblasts are eliminated from the fissure to create new central nervous system (CNS) territory in the midline. Two axon pathways, the corpus callosum and dorsal callosal stria, eventually use this region as part of their pathway. In order to assess the possible role of glial cells in the fusion process and in the guidance of axons in this and several other areas of the forebrain, we have analyzed the developing brain in timed cat and mouse embryos with immunohistochemical and morphological techniques. With the use of astroglial-specific antibodies and electron microscopy, we have visualized two distinct, primitive astroglial structures associated with the cerebral midline, and seven more associated with other specific brain regions. The way in which one of these structures moves as a column along the hemispheric midline in synchrony with seam formation suggests the possibility that during morphogenesis of the telencephalon, astrocytes may aid in the fusion process. In addition, the compact assemblage, early appearance and location of this and the other glial structures in relation to well defined neuroanatomical landmarks or axon pathways suggest that they may transiently compartmentalize relatively large regions of the CNS and organize certain developing fiber systems by acting as guides or barriers at critical stages of ontogeny. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.