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Pax6 and the development of thalamocortical projections


, : Pax6 and the development of thalamocortical projections. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 27(2): 2105

The transcription factor Pax6 is widely expressed throughout the developing nervous system including in the dorsal thalamus. These cells produce thalamocortical axons which navigate through the ventral thalamus, ventral telencephalon and reach their targets in developing cerebral cortex. Mice homozygous for the small eye (Sey) allele of Pax6 exhibit complete loss of Pax6 function. In Sey/Sey embryos, thalamic axons fail to make appropriate connections with the cerebral cortex and instead become stalled in ventral telencephalon where they form a mushroom shaped structure at more rostral levels. The mechanisms by which expression of Pax6 in proliferating cells influences the trajectory of their axons form the focus of this study. To test whether the mechanism underlying this defect includes abnormalities of the dorsal thalamus itself we exploited a transgenic mouse ubiquitously expressing green fluorescent protein tagged with tau, in which axonal tracts are clearly visible, and co-cultured dorsal thalamic explants from +/+ or Sey/Sey embryos carrying the transgene with +/+ tissues from other regions of the forebrain. Whereas +/+ thalamic explants produced strong innervation of +/+ ventral telencephalic explants in a pattern mimicking the tract in vivo, Sey/Sey explants did not, indicating a defect in the ability of mutant dorsal thalamic cells to respond to signals normally present in the ventral telencephalon. These finding demonstrate that a transcription factor expressed in precursor cells influences the trajectory of their axons as they mature and prompts a more detailed examination of the nature of this process.

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