Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the study of intermediate targets and their relay guidance role in long-range pathfinding. In the present study, mechanisms of corticothalamic and thalamocortical pathfinding were investigated in C57BL/6 mice using in vitro DiI labeling and in vivo cholera toxin labeling. Specifically, three important intermediate targets, the subplate, ganglionic eminence, and reticular thalamic nucleus, were studied for their role in corticothalamic and thalamocortical pathfinding. The results show that the neuroepithelium of the ganglionic eminence is a source of pioneer neurons and pioneer fibers. Through radial and tangential migration, these pioneer neurons and fibers can approach the differentiating field of the ganglionic eminence, the subplate and thalamic reticular nucleus to participate in the formation of these three intermediate targets. Furthermore, the subplate, ganglionic eminence and thalamic reticular nucleus are linked by pioneer neurons and fibers to form a guidance axis. The guidance axis and the three important intermediate targets provide an ideal environment of contact guidance and chemical guidance for the corticothalamic and thalamocortical pathfinding. The concept of a "waiting time" in the subplate and the thalamic reticular nucleus is likely due to the expression of a guidance effect, so that the thalamocortical and corticothalamic projections can be deployed spatially and temporally to the subplate and thalamic reticular nucleus before these projections enter their final destinations, the neocortex and thalamus.
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