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A study published in Development reveals a mechanism that prevents alterations in neuronal production during the development of the vertebrate nervous system


A multidisciplinary team from the Cajal Institute, the National Center for Biotechnology, and the University of Barcelona has discovered that the lateral inhibition process during neurogenesis, known to be regulated by the Notch receptor and its ligand Delta, is altered at the neurogenic wavefront (i.e. the edge between the expanding region of the neuroepithelium showing neurogenic capacity and the adjacent non-neurogenic area).

The study was developed through theoretical and computational models that address the complexity of the neurogenic front expansion. The work shows that the existence of the neurogenic wavefront reduces the robustness of the neurogenic process, often resulting in increased production of neurons, presence of morphological alterations of the front itself, and acceleration of neurogenesis. These alterations could be catastrophic for the proper development of the nervous system.

desarrollo embrionario

This work identifies a mechanism that prevents the alterations in the process of lateral inhibition caused by the neurogenic wavefront, based on the expression of the Delta ligand in the non-neurogenic regions ahead of the neurogenic wavefront. The deregulation of this mechanism, which optimizes the process of neurogenesis, could result in pathological alterations leading to developmental diseases of the nervous system.

The work was co-directed by José María Frade and the researcher from the National Center for Biotechnology and the Interdisciplinary Group of Complex Systems (GISC) ​​Saul Ares, who explain the significance of the finding: "Previous theoretical studies suggested that the lateral inhibition process can be altered at the neurogenic edges, but the importance of this notion for the neurogenic process was not appropriately acknowledged. Our study demonstrates the relevance of Delta expression ahead of the neurogenic wavefront, explaining previously published observations on the developmental alterations resulting from the absence of Delta. This work provides a new concept that will attract the attention of neurobiologists who work both in the developing nervous system and in pathologies derived from neuronal development".

Pau Formosa-Jordan, Marta Ibañes, Saúl Ares, and José María Frade. Regulation of neuronal differentiation at the neurogenic wavefront. Development 139: 2321-2329


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