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The Journal of cell biology

Protocadherins control the modular assembly of neuronal columns in the zebrafish optic tectum.


PMID 26598617

Abstract

Cell-cell recognition guides the assembly of the vertebrate brain during development. δ-Protocadherins comprise a family of neural adhesion molecules that are differentially expressed and have been implicated in a range of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here we show that the expression of δ-protocadherins partitions the zebrafish optic tectum into radial columns of neurons. Using in vivo two-photon imaging of bacterial artificial chromosome transgenic zebrafish, we show that pcdh19 is expressed in discrete columns of neurons, and that these columnar modules are derived from proliferative pcdh19(+) neuroepithelial precursors. Elimination of pcdh19 results in both a disruption of columnar organization and defects in visually guided behaviors. These results reveal a fundamental mechanism for organizing the developing nervous system: subdivision of the early neuroepithelium into precursors with distinct molecular identities guides the autonomous development of parallel neuronal units, organizing neural circuit formation and behavior.

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