Cortical dysplasia and skull defects in mice with a Foxc1 allele reveal the role of meningeal differentiation in regulating cortical development.
ABSTRACT: We report the identification of a hypomorphic mouse allele for Foxc1 (Foxc1(hith)) that survives into adulthood revealing previously unknown roles for Foxc1 in development of the skull and cerebral cortex. This line of mice was recovered in a forward genetic screen using ENU mutagenesis to identify mutants with cortical defects. In the hith allele a missense mutation substitutes a Leu for a conserved Phe at amino acid 107, leading to destabilization of the protein without substantially altering transcriptional activity. Embryonic and postnatal histological analyses indicate that diminished Foxc1 protein expression in all three layers of meningeal cells in Foxc1(hith/hith) mice contributes to the cortical and skull defects in mutant mice and that the prominent phenotypes appear as the meninges differentiate into pia, arachnoid, and dura. Careful analysis of the cortical phenotypes shows that Foxc1(hith/hith) mice display detachment of radial glial endfeet, marginal zone heterotopias, and cortical dyslamination. These abnormalities have some features resembling defects in type 2 (cobblestone) lissencephaly or congenital muscular dystrophies but appear later in corticogenesis because of the delay in breakdown of the basement membrane. Our data reveal that the meninges regulate the development of the skull and cerebral cortex by controlling aspects of the formation of these neighboring structures. Furthermore, we provide evidence that defects in meningeal differentiation can lead to severe cortical dysplasia.
Project description:Tangential migration presents the primary mode of migration of cortical interneurons translocating into the cerebral cortex from subpallial domains. This migration takes place in multiple streams with the most superficial one located in the cortical marginal zone. While a number of forebrain-expressed molecules regulating this process have emerged, it remains unclear to what extent structures outside the brain, like the forebrain meninges, are involved.We studied a unique Foxc1 hypomorph mouse model (Foxc1hith/hith) with meningeal defects and impaired tangential migration of cortical interneurons. We identified a territorial correlation between meningeal defects and disruption of interneuron migration along the adjacent marginal zone in these animals, suggesting that impaired meningeal integrity might be the primary cause for the observed migration defects. Moreover, we postulate that the meningeal factor regulating tangential migration that is affected in homozygote mutants is the chemokine Cxcl12. In addition, by using chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis, we provide evidence that the Cxcl12 gene is a direct transcriptional target of Foxc1 in the meninges. Further, we observe migration defects of a lesser degree in Cajal-Retzius cells migrating within the cortical marginal zone, indicating a less important role for Cxcl12 in their migration. Finally, the developmental migration defects observed in Foxc1hith/hith mutants do not lead to obvious differences in interneuron distribution in the adult if compared to control animals.Our results suggest a critical role for the forebrain meninges to promote during development the tangential migration of cortical interneurons along the cortical marginal zone and Cxcl12 as the factor responsible for this property.
Project description:Cortical malformations are important causes of neurological morbidity, but in many cases their etiology is poorly understood. Mice with Foxc1 mutations have cellular defects in meningeal development. We use hypomorphic and null alleles of Foxc1 to study the effect of meningeal defects on neocortical organization.Embryos with loss of Foxc1 activity were generated using the hypomorphic Foxc1(hith) allele and the null Foxc1(lacZ) allele. Immunohistologic analysis was used to assess cerebral basement membrane integrity, marginal zone heterotopia formation, neuronal overmigration, meningeal defects, and changes in basement membrane composition. Dysplasia severity was quantified using 2 measures.Cortical dysplasia resembling cobblestone cortex, with basement membrane breakdown and lamination defects, is seen in Foxc1 mutants. As Foxc1 activity was reduced, abnormalities in basement membrane integrity, heterotopia formation, neuronal overmigration, and meningeal development appeared earlier in gestation and were more severe. Surprisingly, the basement membrane appeared intact at early stages of development in the face of severe deficits in meningeal development. Prominent defects in basement membrane integrity appeared as development proceeded. Molecular analysis of basement membrane laminin subunits demonstrated that loss of the meninges led to changes in basement membrane composition.Cortical dysplasia can be caused by cellular defects in the meninges. The meninges are not required for basement membrane establishment but are needed for remodeling as the brain expands. Specific changes in basement membrane composition may contribute to subsequent breakdown. Our study raises the possibility that primary meningeal defects may cortical dysplasia in some cases.
Project description:Extrinsic signals controlling generation of neocortical neurons during embryonic life have been difficult to identify. In this study we demonstrate that the dorsal forebrain meninges communicate with the adjacent radial glial endfeet and influence cortical development. We took advantage of Foxc1 mutant mice with defects in forebrain meningeal formation. Foxc1 dosage and loss of meninges correlated with a dramatic reduction in both neuron and intermediate progenitor production and elongation of the neuroepithelium. Several types of experiments demonstrate that retinoic acid (RA) is the key component of this secreted activity. In addition, Rdh10- and Raldh2-expressing cells in the dorsal meninges were either reduced or absent in the Foxc1 mutants, and Rdh10 mutants had a cortical phenotype similar to the Foxc1 null mutants. Lastly, in utero RA treatment rescued the cortical phenotype in Foxc1 mutants. These results establish RA as a potent, meningeal-derived cue required for successful corticogenesis.
Project description:The meninges are membranous layers surrounding the central nervous system. In the head, the meninges lie between the brain and the skull, and interact closely with both during development. The cranial meninges originate from a mesenchymal sheath on the surface of the developing brain, called primary meninx, and undergo differentiation into three layers with distinct histological characteristics: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. While genetic regulation of meningeal development is still poorly understood, mouse mutants and other models with meningeal defects have demonstrated the importance of the meninges to normal development of the calvaria and the brain. For the calvaria, the interactions with the meninges are necessary for the progression of calvarial osteogenesis during early development. In later stages, the meninges control the patterning of the skull and the fate of the sutures. For the brain, the meninges regulate diverse processes including cell survival, cell migration, generation of neurons from progenitors, and vascularization. Also, the meninges serve as a stem cell niche for the brain in the postnatal life. Given these important roles of the meninges, further investigation into the molecular mechanisms underlying meningeal development can provide novel insights into the coordinated development of the head.
Project description:Peripheral infection by Trypanosoma brucei, the protozoan responsible for sleeping sickness, activates lymphocytes, and, at later stages, causes meningoencephalitis. We have videoed the cortical meninges and superficial parenchyma of C56BL/6 reporter mice infected with T.b.brucei. By use of a two-photon microscope to image through the thinned skull, the integrity of the tissues was maintained. We observed a 47-fold increase in CD2+ T cells in the meninges by 12 days post infection (dpi). CD11c+ dendritic cells also increased, and extravascular trypanosomes, made visible either by expression of a fluorescent protein, or by intravenous injection of furamidine, appeared. The likelihood that invasion will spread from the meninges to the parenchyma will depend strongly on whether the trypanosomes are below the arachnoid membrane, or above it, in the dura. Making use of optical signals from the skull bone, blood vessels and dural cells, we conclude that up to 40 dpi, the extravascular trypanosomes were essentially confined to the dura, as were the great majority of the T cells. Inhibition of T cell activation by intraperitoneal injection of abatacept reduced the numbers of meningeal T cells at 12 dpi and their mean speed fell from 11.64 ± 0.34 ?m/min (mean ± SEM) to 5.2 ± 1.2 ?m/min (p = 0.007). The T cells occasionally made contact lasting tens of minutes with dendritic cells, indicative of antigen presentation. The population and motility of the trypanosomes tended to decline after about 30 dpi. We suggest that the lymphocyte infiltration of the meninges may later contribute to encephalitis, but have no evidence that the dural trypanosomes invade the parenchyma.
Project description:Growth and maturation of the cerebrovasculature is a vital event in neocortical development however mechanisms that control cerebrovascular development remain poorly understood. Mutations in or deletions that include the FOXC1 gene are associated with congenital cerebrovascular anomalies and increased stroke risk in patients. Foxc1 mutant mice display severe cerebrovascular hemorrhage at late gestational ages. While these data demonstrate Foxc1 is required for cerebrovascular development, its broad expression in the brain vasculature combined with Foxc1 mutant's complex developmental defects have made it difficult to pinpoint its function(s). Using global and conditional Foxc1 mutants, we find 1) significant cerebrovascular growth defects precede cerebral hemorrhage and 2) expression of Foxc1 in neural crest-derived meninges and brain pericytes, though not endothelial cells, is required for normal cerebrovascular development. We provide evidence that reduced levels of meninges-derived retinoic acid (RA), caused by defects in meninges formation in Foxc1 mutants, is a major contributing factor to the cerebrovascular growth defects in Foxc1 mutants. We provide data that suggests that meninges-derived RA ensures adequate growth of the neocortical vasculature via regulating expression of WNT pathway proteins and neural progenitor derived-VEGF-A. Our findings offer the first evidence for a role of the meninges in brain vascular development and provide new insight into potential causes of cerebrovascular defects in patients with FOXC1 mutations.
Project description:Forkhead box protein C1 (FOXC1) is known to regulate developmental processes in the skull and brain. Methods: The unique multipotent arachnoid-pia stem cells (APSCs) isolated from human and mouse arachnoid-pia membranes of meninges were grown as 3D spheres and displayed a capacity for self-renewal. Additionally, APSCs also expressed the surface antigens as mesenchymal stem cells. By applying the FOXC1 knockout mice and mouse brain explants, signaling cascade of FOXC1-STI-1-PrPC was investigated to demonstrate the molecular regulatory pathway for APSCs self-renewal. Moreover, APSCs implantation in stroke model was also verified whether neurogenic property of APSCs could repair the ischemic insult of the stroke brain. Results: Activated FOXC1 regulated the proliferation of APSCs in a cell cycle-dependent manner, whereas FOXC1-mediated APSCs self-renewal was abolished in FOXC1 knockout mice (FOXC1-/- mice). Moreover, upregulation of STI-1 regulated by FOXC1 enhanced cell survival and self-renewal of APSCs through autocrine signaling of cellular prion protein (PrPC). Mouse brain explants STI-1 rescues the cortical phenotype in vitro and induces neurogenesis in the FOXC1 -/- mouse brain. Furthermore, administration of APSCs in ischemic brain restored the neuroglial microenvironment and improved neurological dysfunction. Conclusion: We identified a novel role for FOXC1 in the direct regulation of the STI-1-PrPC signaling pathway to promote cell proliferation and self-renewal of APSCs.
Project description:Vascular changes underlying headache in migraine patients induced by Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) were previously studied with various imaging techniques. Despite the long history of medical and experimental use of GTN, its effects on the brain vasculature are still poorly understood presumably due to low spatial resolution of the imaging modalities used so far. We took advantage of the micrometer-scale vertical resolution of two-photon microscopy to differentiate between the vasodynamic effects of GTN on meningeal versus cortical vessels imaged simultaneously in anesthetized rats through either thinned skull or glass-sealed cranial window. Intermediate and small calibre vessels were visualized in vivo by imaging intravascular fluorescent dextran, and detection of blood flow direction allowed identification of individual arterioles and venules. We found that i.p.-injected GTN induced a transient constriction of meningeal arterioles, while their cortical counterparts were, in contrast, dilated. These opposing effects of GTN were restricted to arterioles, whereas the effects on venules were insignificant. Interestingly, the NO synthase inhibitor L-NAME did not affect the diameter of meningeal vessels but induced a constriction of cortical vessels. The different cellular environment in cortex versus meninges as well as distinct vessel wall anatomical features probably play crucial role in the observed phenomena. These findings highlight differential region- and vessel-type-specific effects of GTN on cranial vessels, and may implicate new vascular mechanisms of NO-mediated primary headaches.
Project description:Radial glial cells (RGCs) in the developing cerebral cortex are progenitors for neurons and glia, and their processes serve as guideposts for migrating neurons. So far, it has remained unclear whether RGC processes also control the function of RGCs more directly. Here, we show that RGC numbers and cortical size are reduced in mice lacking beta1 integrins in RGCs. TUNEL stainings and time-lapse video recordings demonstrate that beta1-deficient RGCs processes detach from the meningeal basement membrane (BM) followed by apoptotic death of RGCs. Apoptosis is also induced by surgical removal of the meninges. Finally, mice lacking the BM components laminin alpha2 and alpha4 show defects in the attachment of RGC processes at the meninges, a reduction in cortical size, and enhanced apoptosis of RGC cells. Our findings demonstrate that attachment of RGC processes at the meninges is important for RGC survival and the control of cortical size.
Project description:Postnatal brain neurogenesis in mammals is believed to be restricted to rare germinative remnants of the neuroepithelium. In this study, we discovered that, in the postnatal brain, a subset of embryonically derived progenitors is present in meningeal substructures. These cells migrate from the meningeal substructures to the retrosplenial and visual motor cortex and differentiate into (electrically) functional integrated neurons. Lineage tracing analysis revealed that this subset of neural progenitors originate largely from PDGFR+ cells. PDGFR-derived cells differentiate mostly into Satb2+ neurons in cortical layers I-IV. Thus, a reservoir of embryonically derived progenitors in the meninges contributes to postnatal cerebral cortical neurogenesis.