Reelin mRNA expression during embryonic brain development in the chick

Béatrice Bernier, Isabelle Bar, Gabriella D'Arcangelo, Tom Curran, André M. Goffinet

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The expression of reelin mRNA was studied during embryonic brain development in the chick, by using in situ hybridization. Reelin was highly expressed in the olfactory bulb and in subpial neurons in the marginal zone of the cerebral cortex. In the diencephalon, the ventral division of lateral geniculate nuclei and perirotundal nuclei were strongly positive. High levels of expression were associated with some layers of the tectum and with the external granule cell layer of the cerebellum. A more moderate signal was detected in the septal nuclei, hyperstriatal fields, retina, habenular nuclei and hypothalamus, in some reticular nuclei of the mid- and hindbrain, and in the spinal cord. Little or no expression was observed in the cortical plate, Purkinje cells, or the inferior olivary complex. Comparison with reelin expression during mammalian and reptilian brain development reveals several evolutionarily conserved features that presumably define a homology. In addition, significant differences are noted, particularly in telencephalic fields. Most importantly, the developing chick cortex does not exhibit high levels of reelin expression in subpial Cajal-Retzius cells characteristic of the mammalian brain. These observations are compatible with an action of reelin on adhesion and/or of nucleokinesis at the level of target cells. They further suggest that, whereas the telencephalon of birds and archosaurs evolved primarily from dorsal ventricular ridge derivatives in which reelin is probably secondary, the increase in number of reelin-positive cells, and amplification of reelin expression played a key part in the evolution of the cortex in the synapsid lineage leading to mammals. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-463
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Brain evolution
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Dab1
  • In situ hybridization
  • Reeler

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