Radial glia regulate Cajal-Retzius cell positioning in the early embryonic cerebral cortex

Hyo Jun Kwon, Shang Ma, Zhen Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The organization of neocortex, along its radial axis, into a six-layered structure is one of the most exquisite features of the brain. Because of their strategic localization in the marginal zone, and their expression of reelin, a signal that controls spatial ordering of cortical layers, Cajal-Retzius (C-R) cells play a crucial role in cortical patterning along this axis. Yet, it remains less well understood how C-R cell targeting itself is regulated. At the onset of corticogenesis when C-R cells first arrive in the cortex via tangential migration, radial glia (RG) are the main cell type present. This suggests that RG may play a role in C-R cell localization. To test this, we used genetic approaches to perturb RG scaffold during early corticogenesis. We found that disrupting RG endfoot adhesion to basal lamina consistently results in C-R cell displacement. These displacements do not appear to result from primary defects in neural progenitor cell proliferation, deficits in the meninges or basement membrane, or cell autonomous defects in C-R cells. Instead, they show close temporal and spatial correlation with RG endfoot retraction. Moreover, ablation of RG via cell cycle blockade similarly results in local displacement of C-R cells. These lines of evidence thus indicate that, during early corticogenesis, RG play a primary role in regulating spatial targeting of C-R cells. Since RG are also neural progenitors as well as neuronal migration scaffolds, these findings suggest that, during nervous system development, neuroepithelial stem cells may not only be responsible for generating a diverse array of neuronal cell types and facilitating their radial migration. They may also, through regulating the placement of guidepost cells, coordinate spatial patterning of the nervous system along its radial axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cajal-Retzius cell
  • Cell ablation
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Neuroepithelial stem cell
  • Radial glia
  • β1 integrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Radial glia regulate Cajal-Retzius cell positioning in the early embryonic cerebral cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this