Researchers have found how brain cells control their movement to form the cerebral cortex

Feb 25, 2011

A study led by Academy Research Fellow Eleanor Coffey identifies new players that put the brakes on. They show in mice that lack the star player "JNK1", that newborn neurons spend less time in the multipolar stage, which is when the cells prepare for subsequent expedition, possibly choosing the route to be taken. Having hurried through this stage, they move off at high speed to reach their final destinations in the cortex days earlier and less precisely than in a normal mouse. The results of their study are published in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience.

Incorrect placement of during may leave us at risk of diseases and conditions ranging from epilepsy and mental retardation to and dyslexia. When our brains develop, they do so at an impressive rate with up to 250,000 new cells produced every minute. These newborn neurons do not remain in place but instead migrate long distances in wave after wave to settle in the layers that make up the largest part of our brain, the cerebral cortex. If a neuron moves too fast during this journey, it may not take the correct route or reach its destination. The way neurons control their speed of migration has not been clear.

So how does JNK1 control movement of neurons in the developing cortex? move as a consequence of positive and negative regulatory mechanisms. Coffey and her team identified a protein called SCG10 that cooperates with JNK1 to slow down the pace. We have known for years that SCG10 is abundant in the developing cortex and that it can bind to and control the brain cell skeleton or cytoskeleton. However no-one realised that its function is to regulate movement of neurons.

Coffey's results indicate that JNK1 and SCG10 cooperate to make the cytoskeleton more rigid. When cytoskeleton is stiff and inflexible, neurons stay longer in the multipolar stage and move slower, possibly because they are less able to squeeze through the cell layers generated earlier in development. How precisely is the cooperation between JNK1 and SCG10 accomplished? JNK1 is an enzyme which can add phosphate onto SCG10. Once SCG10 is modified in this way, it stabilizes the .

Explore further: Navigation and location can occur without external cues

More information: www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v… n3/full/nn.2755.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The beginnings of the thinking brain

Jun 28, 2006

Oxford researchers have identified the very first neurons in the human cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that sets us apart from all other animals.

Researchers work to prevent neurological diseases

Jun 24, 2010

Many diseases of brain function, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia, are caused by problems in how neurons communicate with each other. A University of Houston (UH) researcher and his team are analyzing these ...

Transplanted stem cells form proper brain connections

Jan 19, 2010

Transplanted neurons grown from embryonic stem cells can fully integrate into the brains of young animals, according to new research in the Jan. 20 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Healthy brains have s ...

Neuronal migration errors: Right cells, wrong place

Jan 04, 2011

Normally, cortical nerve cells or neurons reside in the brain's gray matter with only a few scattered neurons in the white matter, but some people with schizophrenia have a higher number of neurons in the white matter. Neuronal ...

Researchers learn more about interactions in the cortex

Feb 24, 2011

To an untrained observer, the electrical storm that takes place over the brain’s neural network seems a chaotic flurry of activity. But as neuroscientists understand it, the millions of neurons are actually ...

Recommended for you

Neuroscience: Why scratching makes you itch more

3 hours ago

Turns out your mom was right: Scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that scratching causes the brain to release ...

Fruit fly lights up brain wiring

7 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Fluorescent fruit flies have helped University of Queensland researchers take a critical step toward understanding the human brain's neuronal "wiring" and how it can go awry.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.