Background: Cortical GABAergic interneurons (INs) are generated in the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) and migrate tangentially into cortex. Because most, if not all, migrating MGE-derived INs express the neuregulin (NRG) receptor, ErbB4, we investigated influences of Nrg1 isoforms and Nrg3 on IN migration through ventral telencephalon (vTel) and within cortex. Results: During IN migration, NRG expression domains and distributions of ErbB4-expressing, MGE-derived INs are complementary with minimal overlap, both in vTel and cortex. In wild type mice, within fields of NRG expression, these INs are focused at positions of low or absent NRG expression. However, in ErbB4-/- HER4heart mutant mice in which INs lack ErbB4, these complementary patterns are degraded with considerable overlap evident between IN distribution and NRG expression domains. These findings suggest that NRGs are repellents for migrating ErbB4-expressing INs, a function supported by in vitro and in vivo experiments. First, in collagen co-cultures, MGE-derived cells preferentially migrate away from a source of secreted NRGs. Second, cells migrating from wild type MGE explants on living forebrain slices from wild type embryonic mice tend to avoid endogenous NRG expression domains, whereas this avoidance behavior is not exhibited by ErbB4-deficient cells migrating from MGE explants and instead they have a radial pattern with a more uniform distribution. Third, ectopic NRG expression in the IN migration pathway produced by in utero electroporation blocks IN migration and results in cortex distal to the blockade being largely devoid of INs. Finally, fewer INs reach cortex in ErbB4 mutants indicating that NRG-ErbB4 signaling is required for directing IN migration from the MGE to cortex. Conclusions: Our results show that NRGs act as repellents for migrating ErbB4-expressing, MGE-derived GABAergic INs and that the patterned expression of NRGs funnels INs as they migrate from the MGE to their cortical destinations.
Li, H., Chou, S. J., Hamasaki, T., Perez-Garcia, C. G., & O’Leary, D. D. M. (2012). Neuregulin repellent signaling via ErbB4 restricts GABAergic interneurons to migratory paths from ganglionic eminence to cortical destinations. Neural Development, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1749-8104-7-10