Pathophysiological analyses of cortical malformation using gyrencephalic mammals.
ABSTRACT: One of the most prominent features of the cerebral cortex of higher mammals is the presence of gyri. Because malformations of the cortical gyri are associated with severe disability in brain function, the mechanisms underlying malformations of the cortical gyri have been of great interest. Combining gyrencephalic carnivore ferrets and genetic manipulations using in utero electroporation, here we successfully recapitulated the cortical phenotypes of thanatophoric dysplasia (TD) by expressing fibroblast growth factor 8 in the ferret cerebral cortex. Strikingly, in contrast to TD mice, our TD ferret model showed not only megalencephaly but also polymicrogyria. We further uncovered that outer radial glial cells (oRGs) and intermediate progenitor cells (IPs) were markedly increased. Because it has been proposed that increased oRGs and/or IPs resulted in the appearance of cortical gyri during evolution, it seemed possible that increased oRGs and IPs underlie the pathogenesis of polymicrogyria. Our findings should help shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation and malformation of cortical gyri in higher mammals.
Project description:Because folding of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brain is believed to be crucial for higher brain functions, the mechanisms underlying its formation during development and evolution are of great interest. Although it has been proposed that increased neural progenitors in the subventricular zone (SVZ) are responsible for making cortical folds, their roles in cortical folding are still largely unclear, mainly because genetic methods for gyrencephalic mammals had been poorly available. Here, by taking an advantage of our newly developed in utero electroporation technique for the gyrencephalic brain of ferrets, we investigated the role of SVZ progenitors in cortical folding. We found regional differences in the abundance of SVZ progenitors in the developing ferret brain even before cortical folds began to be formed. When Tbr2 transcription factor was inhibited, intermediate progenitor cells were markedly reduced in the ferret cerebral cortex. Interestingly, outer radial glial cells were also reduced by inhibiting Tbr2. We uncovered that reduced numbers of SVZ progenitors resulted in impaired cortical folding. When Tbr2 was inhibited, upper cortical layers were preferentially reduced in gyri compared to those in sulci. Our findings indicate the biological importance of SVZ progenitors in cortical folding in the gyrencephalic brain.
Project description:The dramatic increase in neocortical size and folding during mammalian brain evolution has been attributed to the elaboration of the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the associated increase in neural progenitors. However, recent studies have shown that SVZ size and the abundance of resident progenitors do not directly predict cortical topography, suggesting that complex behaviors of the progenitors themselves may contribute to the overall size and shape of the adult cortex. Using time-lapse imaging, we examined the dynamic behaviors of SVZ progenitors in the ferret, a gyrencephalic carnivore, focusing our analysis on outer radial glial cells (oRGs). We identified a substantial population of oRGs by marker expression and their unique mode of division, termed mitotic somal translocation (MST). Ferret oRGs exhibited diverse behaviors in terms of division location, cleavage angle, and MST distance, as well as fiber orientation and dynamics. We then examined the human fetal cortex and found that a subset of human oRGs displayed similar characteristics, suggesting that diversity in oRG behavior may be a general feature. Similar to the human, ferret oRGs underwent multiple rounds of self-renewing divisions but were more likely to undergo symmetric divisions that expanded the oRG population, as opposed to producing intermediate progenitor cells (IPCs). Differences in oRG behaviors, including proliferative potential and daughter cell fates, may contribute to variations in cortical structure between mammalian species.
Project description:Polymicrogyria is a relatively common but poorly understood defect of cortical development characterized by numerous small gyri and a thick disorganized cortical plate lacking normal lamination. Here we report de novo mutations in a beta-tubulin gene, TUBB2B, in four individuals and a 27-gestational-week fetus with bilateral asymmetrical polymicrogyria. Neuropathological examination of the fetus revealed an absence of cortical lamination associated with the presence of ectopic neuronal cells in the white matter and in the leptomeningeal spaces due to breaches in the pial basement membrane. In utero RNAi-based inactivation demonstrates that TUBB2B is required for neuronal migration. We also show that two disease-associated mutations lead to impaired formation of tubulin heterodimers. These observations, together with previous data, show that disruption of microtubule-based processes underlies a large spectrum of neuronal migration disorders that includes not only lissencephaly and pachygyria, but also polymicrogyria malformations.
Project description:Polymicrogyria (PMG) is one of a large group of human cortical malformations that collectively account for a significant percentage of patients with epilepsy, congenital neurological deficits, and intellectual disability. PMG is characterized by an excess of small gyri and abnormal cortical lamination. The most common distribution is bilateral, symmetrical, and maximal, in the region surrounding the sylvian fissures, and is known as "bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria" (BPP). Most cases are sporadic, although several families have been observed with multiple affected members, usually following an X-linked inheritance pattern. Here we report the first genetic locus for BPP mapped by linkage analysis in five families. Linkage places the critical region for BPP at Xq28 (LOD score 3.08 in Xq28, distal to DXS8103 by multipoint analysis). We suggest that this region contains a gene that is necessary for correct neuronal organization and that the identification of this gene will both enhance our understanding of normal cortical development and accelerate the identification of other genes responsible for PMG.
Project description:The relationships between impaired cortical development and consequent malformations in neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as the genes implicated in these processes, are not fully elucidated to date. In this study, we report six novel cases of patients affected by BBSOAS (Boonstra-Bosch-Schaff optic atrophy syndrome), a newly emerging rare neurodevelopmental disorder, caused by loss-of-function mutations of the transcriptional regulator NR2F1. Young patients with NR2F1 haploinsufficiency display mild to moderate intellectual disability and show reproducible polymicrogyria-like brain malformations in the parietal and occipital cortex. Using a recently established BBSOAS mouse model, we found that Nr2f1 regionally controls long-term self-renewal of neural progenitor cells via modulation of cell cycle genes and key cortical development master genes, such as Pax6. In the human fetal cortex, distinct NR2F1 expression levels encompass gyri and sulci and correlate with local degrees of neurogenic activity. In addition, reduced NR2F1 levels in cerebral organoids affect neurogenesis and PAX6 expression. We propose NR2F1 as an area-specific regulator of mouse and human brain morphology and a novel causative gene of abnormal gyrification.
Project description:Polymicrogyria is one of the most common malformations of cortical development. It has been known for many years and its clinical and MRI manifestations are well described. Recent advances in imaging, however, have revealed that polymicrogyria has many different appearances on MR imaging, suggesting that is may be a more heterogeneous malformation than previously suspected. The clinical and imaging heterogeneity of polymicrogyria is explored in this review.
Project description:Polymicrogyria is a malformation of cortical development characterized by loss of the normal gyral pattern, which is replaced by many small and infolded gyri separated by shallow, partly fused sulci, and loss of middle cortical layers. The pathogenesis is unknown, yet emerging data supports the existence of several loci in the human genome. We report on the clinical and brain imaging features, and results of cytogenetic and molecular genetic studies in 29 patients with polymicrogyria associated with structural chromosome rearrangements. Our data map new polymicrogyria loci in chromosomes 1p36.3, 2p16.1-p23, 4q21.21-q22.1, 6q26-q27, and 21q21.3-q22.1, and possible loci in 1q44 and 18p as well. Most and possibly all of these loci demonstrate incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. We anticipate that these data will serve as the basis for ongoing efforts to identify the causal genes located in these regions.
Project description:In the mouse, two telencephalic signaling centers orchestrate embryonic patterning of the cerebral cortex. From the rostral patterning center in the telencephalon, the Fibroblast Growth Factor, FGF8, disperses as a morphogen to establish the rostral to caudal axis of the neocortical area map. FGF8 coordinates with Wnt3a from the cortical hem to regulate graded expression of transcription factors that position neocortical areas, and control hippocampal development. Whether similar signaling centers pattern the much larger cortices of carnivore and primate species, however, is unclear. The limited dispersion range of FGF8 and Wnt3a is inconsistent with patterning larger cortical primordia. Yet the implication that different mechanisms organize cortex in different mammals flies in the face of the tenet that developmental patterning mechanisms are conserved across vertebrate species. In the present study, both signaling centers were identified in the ferret telencephalon, as were expression gradients of the patterning transcription factor genes regulated by FGF8 and Wnt3a. Notably, at the stage corresponding to the peak period of FGF8 signaling in the mouse neocortical primordium (NP), the NP was the same size in ferret and mouse, which would allow morphogen patterning of the ferret NP. Subsequently, the size of ferret neocortex shot past that of the mouse. Images from online databases further suggest that NP growth in humans, too, is slowed in early cortical development. We propose that if early growth in larger brains is held back, mechanisms that pattern the neocortical area map in the mouse could be conserved across mammalian species.
Project description:Mutations in alpha- and beta-tubulins are increasingly recognized as a major cause of malformations of cortical development (MCD), typically lissencephaly, pachygyria and polymicrogyria; however, sequencing tubulin genes in large cohorts of MCD patients has detected tubulin mutations in only 1-13%. We identified patients with a highly characteristic cerebellar dysplasia but without lissencephaly, pachygyria and polymicrogyria typically associated with tubulin mutations. Remarkably, in seven of nine patients (78%), targeted sequencing revealed mutations in three different tubulin genes (TUBA1A, TUBB2B and TUBB3), occurring de novo or inherited from a mosaic parent. Careful re-review of the cortical phenotype on brain imaging revealed only an irregular pattern of gyri and sulci, for which we propose the term tubulinopathy-related dysgyria. Basal ganglia (100%) and brainstem dysplasia (80%) were common features. On the basis of in silico structural predictions, the mutations affect amino acids in diverse regions of the alpha-/beta-tubulin heterodimer, including the nucleotide binding pocket. Cell-based assays of tubulin dynamics reveal various effects of the mutations on incorporation into microtubules: TUBB3 p.Glu288Lys and p.Pro357Leu do not incorporate into microtubules at all, whereas TUBB2B p.Gly13Ala shows reduced incorporation and TUBA1A p.Arg214His incorporates fully, but at a slower rate than wild-type. The broad range of effects on microtubule incorporation is at odds with the highly stereotypical clinical phenotype, supporting differential roles for the three tubulin genes involved. Identifying this highly characteristic phenotype is important due to the low recurrence risk compared with the other (recessive) cerebellar dysplasias and the apparent lack of non-neurological medical issues.
Project description:The purpose of the study is to explore the causative role of TUBB2B gene mutations in patients with different malformations of cortical development. We collected and evaluated clinical and MRI data of a cohort of 128 consecutive patients (61 females and 67 males) in whom brain MRI had detected a spectrum of malformations of cortical development including polymicrogyria or pachygyria, who were mutation-negative to other possible causative genes. Mutation analysis of the TUBB2B gene was performed. We identified three new TUBB2B mutations in three unrelated patients (3 out of 128; 2.3%) with a diffuse and rather symmetrical cortical abnormality, including diffuse polymicrogyria in two and bilateral regional pachygyria in one. One patient harbored a p.Asp417Asn amino-acid substitution in the C-terminal domain of the protein; one patient a p.Asn256Ser amino-acid substitution in the intermediate domain and one patient a p.Leu117Pro amino-acid substitution in the N-terminal domain. The localization of each mutation within the secondary structure of the ?2-tubulin polypeptide suggests that these mutations might alter the proper functions of microtubules. The phenotypic spectrum associated with TUBB2B mutations is wider than previously reported and includes diffuse, symmetric malformations of cortical development.