Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In the developing brain, gradients are commonly used to divide neurogenic regions into distinct functional domains. In this article, we discuss the functions of morphogen and gene expression gradients in the assembly of the nervous system in the context of the development of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is a mammal-specific region of the forebrain that functions at the top of the neural hierarchy to process and interpret sensory information, plan and organize tasks, and to control motor functions. The mature cerebral cortex is a modular structure, consisting of anatomically and functionally distinct areas. Those areas of neurons are generated from a uniform neuroepithelial sheet by two forms of gradients: graded extracellular signals and a set of transcription factor gradients operating across the field of neocortical stem cells. Fgf signaling from the rostral pole of the cerebral cortex sets up gradients of expression of transcription factors by both activating and repressing gene expression. However, in contrast to the spinal cord and the early Drosophila embryo, these gradients are not subsequently resolved into molecularly distinct domains of gene expression. Instead, graded information in stem cells is translated into discrete, region-specific gene expression in the postmitotic neuronal progeny of the stem cells.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology

Publication Date

08/2009

Volume

1

Addresses

Gurdon Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QN.

Keywords

Nervous System, Brain, Cerebral Cortex, Motor Cortex, Spinal Cord, Neurons, Stem Cells, Animals, Mice, Drosophila, Fibroblast Growth Factors, Transcription Factors, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Models, Biological