Brain, behavior and evolution

A Developmental Study of the Cerebellar Nucleus in the Catshark, a Basal Gnathostome.

PMID 28214875


The output of the cerebellar cortex is mainly released via cerebellar nuclei which vary in number and complexity among gnathostomes, extant vertebrates with a cerebellum. Cartilaginous fishes, a basal gnathostome lineage, show a conspicuous, well-organized cerebellar nucleus, unlike ray-finned fishes. To gain insight into the evolution and development of the cerebellar nucleus, we analyzed in the shark Scyliorhinus canicula (a chondrichthyan model species) the developmental expression of several genes coding for transcription factors (ScLhx5,ScLhx9,ScTbr1, and ScEn2) and the distribution of the protein calbindin, since all appear to be involved in cerebellar nuclei patterning in other gnathostomes. Three regions (subventricular, medial or central, and lateral or superficial) became recognizable in the cerebellar nucleus of this shark during development. Present genoarchitectonic and neurochemical data in embryos provide insight into the origin of the cerebellar nucleus in chondrichthyans and support a tripartite mediolateral organization of the cerebellar nucleus, as previously described in adult sharks. Furthermore, the expression pattern of ScLhx5,ScLhx9, and ScTbr1 in this shark, together with that of markers of proliferation, migration, and early differentiation of neurons, is compatible with the hypothesis that, as in mammals, different subsets of cerebellar nucleus neurons are originated from progenitors of 2 different sources: the ventricular zone of the cerebellar plate and the rhombic lip. We also present suggestive evidence that Lhx9 expression is involved in cerebellar nuclei patterning early on in gnathostome evolution, rather than representing an evolutionary innovation of the dentate nucleus in mammals, as previously hypothesized.