Scientific article
Open access

An early cortical progenitor-specific mechanism regulates thalamocortical innervation

Published inThe journal of neuroscience, vol. 41, no. 32, p. 6822-6835
Publication date2021-08-11
First online date2021-06-30

The cortical subplate is critical in regulating the entry of thalamocortical sensory afferents into the cortex. These afferents reach the subplate at embryonic day (E)15.5 in the mouse, but "wait" for several days, entering the cortical plate postnatally. We report that when transcription factor LHX2 is lost in E11.5 cortical progenitors, which give rise to subplate neurons, thalamocortical afferents display premature, exuberant ingrowth into the E15.5 cortex. Embryonic mutant subplate neurons are correctly positioned below the cortical plate, but they display an altered transcriptome and immature electrophysiological properties during the waiting period. The sensory thalamus in these cortex-specific Lhx2 mutants displays atrophy and by postnatal day (P) 7, sensory innervation to the cortex is nearly eliminated leading to a loss of the somatosensory barrels. Strikingly, these phenotypes do not manifest if LHX2 is lost in postmitotic subplate neurons, and the transcriptomic dysregulation in the subplate resulting from postmitotic loss of LHX2 is vastly distinct from that seen when LHX2 is lost in progenitors. These results demonstrate a mechanism operating in subplate progenitors that has profound consequences on the growth of thalamocortical axons into the cortex. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Thalamocortical nerves carry sensory information from the periphery to the cortex. When they first grow into the embryonic cortex, they "wait" at the subplate, a structure critical for the guidance and eventual connectivity of thalamic axons with their cortical targets. How the properties of subplate neurons are regulated is unclear. We report that transcription factor LHX2 is required in the progenitor "mother" cells of the cortical primordium when they are producing their "daughter" subplate neurons, in order for the thalamocortical pathway to wait at the subplate. Without LHX2 function in subplate progenitors, thalamocortical axons grow past the subplate, entering the cortical plate prematurely. This is followed by their eventual attrition and, consequently, a profound loss of sensory innervation of the mature cortex.

  • Subplate
  • Barrels
  • Brain / embryology
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
Citation (ISO format)
PAL, Suranjana et al. An early cortical progenitor-specific mechanism regulates thalamocortical innervation. In: The journal of neuroscience, 2021, vol. 41, n° 32, p. 6822–6835. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0226-21.2021
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0270-6474

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