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  • On the road marked by the meninges

    resize8The Cajal-Retzius cells, discovered by Ramon y Cajal in the late nineteenth century, play a critical role in the development of the cerebral cortex and the subsequent coordination of neuronal activity. To get to occupy that position in the adult brain, these cells must migrate in a coordinated manner during embryogenesis of the brain from his birthplace to the surface of the cerebral cortex.

    Little is known about the mechanisms that control this phenomenon until Victor Borrell and Oscar Marín (Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante) have a molecular pattern that explains the organization of neuronal layers of the cortex during embryonic development. The dispersion of Cajal-Retzius cells occurs during the early stages of embryonic development, are born in specific locations and then migrate through the brain’s surface to coat completely. Experiments with cell cultures and in vivo manipulations have allowed them to conclude that the meningeal membranes have other functions besides the shelters that were initially supposed. The membranes serve as a substrate or way of Cajal-Retzius cells for tangential migration along the surface of the cortex. They have also given a potent chemoattractant factor for these cells, which is produced by the meninges. This is the chemokine CXCL12, which acts as a ligand and attractive of Cajal-Retzius cells throughout their dispersion.

    As also found for the orientation of neuronal axons growing, migrating neurons require the existence of a substrate to enable and guide the movement, as well as a chemoattractant and quimiorrepulsivos factors present in the medium to direct the path. The discovery published in Nature Neuroscience shows that the meninges not only play a purely protective function of the brain, but are directly involved in the process of development of the cerebral cortex.

    Published on December 19, 2012 · Filed under: Bioscience; Tagged as: , , ,
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