Comparative aspects of cerebral cortical development

Authors

  • Zoltán Molnár,

    1. Department of Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QX, UK
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  • Christine Métin,

    1. U616 INSERM, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, 47 Bld de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cédex 13, France
    2. Université P. et M. Curie, Paris 6, IFR 70, 75651 Paris, France
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  • Anastassia Stoykova,

    1. Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
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  • Victor Tarabykin,

    1. Department of Molecular Biology of Neuronal Signals, Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
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  • David J. Price,

    1. Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK
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  • Fiona Francis,

    1. Institut Cochin, Département de Génétique et Développement, Paris, F-75014 France
    2. INSERM U567, Paris, France
    3. CNRS UMR 8104, Paris, France
    4. Université René Descartes, Paris V, 75014 Paris, France
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  • Gundela Meyer,

    1. University of La Laguna, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anatomy, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
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  • Colette Dehay,

    1. INSERM, U371, Department of Stem Cells and Cortical Development, 18 Avenue Doyen Lépine 69675 Bron Cedex, France
    2. Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1, IFR19, 69675 Bron Cedex, France
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  • Henry Kennedy

    1. INSERM, U371, Department of Stem Cells and Cortical Development, 18 Avenue Doyen Lépine 69675 Bron Cedex, France
    2. Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1, IFR19, 69675 Bron Cedex, France
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Zoltán Molnár, as above.
E-mail: zoltan.molnar@anat.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

This review aims to provide examples of how both comparative and genetic analyses contribute to our understanding of the rules for cortical development and evolution. Genetic studies have helped us to realize the evolutionary rules of telencephalic organization in vertebrates. The control of the establishment of conserved telencephalic subdivisions and the formation of boundaries between these subdivisions has been examined and the very specific alterations at the striatocortical junction have been revealed. Comparative studies and genetic analyses both demonstrate the differential origin and migratory pattern of the two basic neuron types of the cerebral cortex. GABAergic interneurons are mostly generated in the subpallium and a common mechanism governs their migration to the dorsal cortex in both mammals and sauropsids. The pyramidal neurons are generated within the cortical germinal zone and migrate radially, the earliest generated cell layers comprising preplate cells. Reelin-positive Cajal–Retzius cells are a general feature of all vertebrates studied so far; however, there is a considerable amplification of the Reelin signalling with cortical complexity, which might have contributed to the establishment of the basic mammalian pattern of cortical development. Based on numerous recent observations we shall present the argument that specialization of the mitotic compartments may constitute a major drive behind the evolution of the mammalian cortex. Comparative developmental studies have revealed distinct features in the early compartments of the developing macaque brain, drawing our attention to the limitations of some of the current model systems for understanding human developmental abnormalities of the cortex. Comparative and genetic aspects of cortical development both reveal the workings of evolution.

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