Achucarro Seminars

15 Oct [2021]

at 13.00 CET

Non-canonical Functions of Migrating Cells in Brain Development

Carla Gomes da Silva

University of Liège (Belgium)


During brain development, a large number of cell types adopt a migratory behaviour to integrate tissue domains. Directional migration is determined by gradients of signalling molecules, intrinsic migration determinants and intercellular crosstalk. Migration is a key step to form complex cellular networks with balanced activity.

 I have been exploring how intrinsic patterns of migration and intercellular communication influence the migration of interneurons and early-generated oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) that migrate from the ganglionic eminences into the cortex, during embryogenesis. Interneuron migration is highly determined by intrinsic cytoskeleton dynamics and abolishing the biphasic mode of displacement leads to an exacerbated cortical invasion and the manifestation of social behaviour defaults in mice (Silva et al., Cell, 2018; LeBail et al., in preparation). Cortical interneurons migration is also influenced by chemical cues, such as Cxcl12, a chemokine released by endothelial cells forming blood vessels that cover the entirety of the brain parenchyma. How interneurons lack attraction to blood vessels and are steered to cortical sources of Cxcl12 was so far unknown. In my most research article, we show that contemporary oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) generated in the ganglionic eminences, display the fundamental role of preventing interneuron interaction to blood vessels by performing unidirectional contact-repulsion (UCoRe) (Lepiemme et al., Bioarxiv). Attraction towards blood vessels placed along the way delays the timely arrival of interneurons into the cortex. UCoRe is thus an efficient strategy at play between interneurons and early-generated OPCs, serving to avoid competition for Cxcl12 while organizing the individual migration of both populations towards cortical territories.

My future research aims at deciphering the potential of OPCs in the formation of neuronal networks. OPCs establish physical interactions with interneurons and growing axons during embryogenesis and well before the onset of myelination, suggesting that they may display functions that go beyond myelination. My preliminary observations suggest that they may instruct the formation and organization on long-range axonal tracts and influence the function of microcircuits independently on the myelination.

Currently we are hosting our seminar in Zoom. The link is available to external people on request.


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