• immunohistochemistry;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • ontogeny;
  • telencephalon


In the light of the various neurobiological effects of glutamate in brain development, although some embryonic cells are a probable source of glutamate involved in the development of precursor cells and/or immature neurons, little is known about when and where glutamate plays its crucial roles during corticogenesis. To investigate these roles, we focused on the developmental expression of vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT)1 and VGLUT2, which are regarded as the best markers for verifying glutamatergic neuron identity, especially the spatiotemporal distributions of their transcripts and proteins in the developing mouse cortex and hippocampus. In situ hybridization studies revealed that VGLUT1 mRNA is expressed in preplate and marginal zone cells at embryonic day (E)10 and in subplate cells by E13, whereas VGLUT2 mRNA is expressed in preplate and marginal zone cells at E10 and in cells of the subventricular zone by E13. Reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction analysis detected full-length VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 gene transcripts in the embryonic brain. By dual labeling combined with immunostaining for microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) or reelin, we showed that MAP2-positive preplate and marginal zone neurons and subplate neurons express VGLUT1, while reelin-positive preplate and marginal zone cells and MAP2-negative subventricular zone cells express VGLUT2. The present study is the first to provide morphologically reliable evidence showing that Cajal–Retzius cells and subplate neurons are glutamatergic, and that the two cells differentially express VGLUT1 and VGLUT2, respectively, as the specific transport system of glutamate in some events orchestrated by these cells during the cortical development of mice.