Patterning of the cortical neuroepithelium occurs at early stages of embryonic development in response to secreted molecules from signaling centers. These signals have been shown to establish the graded expression of transcription factors in progenitors within the ventricular zone and to control the size and positioning of cortical areas. Cajal-Retzius (CR) cells are among the earliest generated cortical neurons and migrate from the borders of the developing pallium to cover the cortical primordium by E11.5. We show that molecularly distinct CR subtypes distribute in specific combinations in pallial territories at the time of cortical regionalization. By means of genetic ablation experiments in mice, we report that loss of septum Dbx1-derived CR cells in the rostromedial pallium between E10.5 and E11.5 results in the redistribution of CR subtypes. This leads to changes in the expression of transcription factors within the neuroepithelium and in the proliferation properties of medial and dorsal cortical progenitors. Early regionalization defects correlate with shifts in the positioning of cortical areas at postnatal stages in the absence of alterations of gene expression at signaling centers. We show that septum-derived CR neurons express a highly specific repertoire of signaling factors. Our results strongly suggest that these cells, migrating over long distances and positioned in the postmitotic compartment, signal to ventricular zone progenitors and, thus, function as modulators of early cortical patterning.
Griveau, A., Borello, U., Causeret, F., Tissir, F., Boggetto, N., Karaz, S., & Pierani, A. (2010). A novel role for Dbx1-derived Cajal-Retzius cells in early regionalization of the cerebral cortical neuroepithelium. PLoS Biology, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000440