Molyneaux BJ, Arlotta P, Hirata T, Hibi M, Macklis JD. 2005. Fezl is required for the birth and specification of corticospinal motor neurons. Neuron. 47(6):817-31. Pubmed: 16157277


The molecular mechanisms controlling the differentiation of neural progenitors into distinct subtypes of neurons during neocortical development are unknown. Here, we report that Fezl is required for the specification of corticospinal motor neurons and other subcerebral projection neurons, which are absent from Fezl null mutant neocortex. There is neither an increase in cell death in Fezl(-/-) cortex nor abnormalities in migration, indicating that the absence of subcerebral projection neurons is due to a failure in fate specification. In striking contrast, other neuronal populations in the same and other cortical layers are born normally. Overexpression of Fezl results in excess production of subcerebral projection neurons and arrested migration of these neurons in the germinal zone. These data indicate that Fezl plays a central role in the specification of corticospinal motor neurons and other subcerebral projection neurons, controlling early decisions regarding lineage-specific differentiation from neural progenitors.

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Photo of Paola Arlotta

Dr. Arlotta is interested in understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation and assembly of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls how we sense, move and think. She integrates developmental and evolutionary knowledge to investigate therapies for brain repair and for modeling neuropsychiatric disease.

Photo of Jeffrey D. Macklis

Jeffrey Macklis investigates molecular controls and mechanisms over neuron subtype specification, development, diversity, axon guidance-circuit formation, and pathology in the cerebral cortex. His lab seeks to apply developmental controls toward brain and spinal cord regeneration and directed differentiation for in vitro mechanistic modeling using human assembloids.

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