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J Comp Neurol October 1, 2020; 528 (14): 2361-2403.

Amphibian thalamic nuclear organization during larval development and in the adult frog Xenopus laevis: Genoarchitecture and hodological analysis.

Morona R , Bandín S , López JM , Moreno N , González A .

The early patterning of the thalamus during embryonic development defines rostral and caudal progenitor domains, which are conserved from fishes to mammals. However, the subsequent developmental mechanisms that lead to the adult thalamic configuration have only been investigated for mammals and other amniotes. In this study, we have analyzed in the anuran amphibian Xenopus laevis (an anamniote vertebrate), through larval and postmetamorphic development, the progressive regional expression of specific markers for the rostral (GABA, GAD67, Lhx1, and Nkx2.2) and caudal (Gbx2, VGlut2, Lhx2, Lhx9, and Sox2) domains. In addition, the regional distributions at different developmental stages of other markers such as calcium binding proteins and neuropeptides, helped the identification of thalamic nuclei. It was observed that the two embryonic domains were progressively specified and compartmentalized during premetamorphosis, and cell subpopulations characterized by particular gene expression combinations were located in periventricular, intermediate and superficial strata. During prometamorphosis, three dorsoventral tiers formed from the caudal domain and most pronuclei were defined, which were modified into the definitive nuclear configuration through the metamorphic climax. Mixed cell populations originated from the rostral and caudal domains constitute most of the final nuclei and allowed us to propose additional subdivisions in the adult thalamus, whose main afferent and efferent connections were assessed by tracing techniques under in vitro conditions. This study corroborates shared features of early gene expression patterns in the thalamus between Xenopus and mouse, however, the dynamic changes in gene expression observed at later stages in the amphibian support mechanisms different from those of mammals.

PubMed ID: 32162311
Article link: J Comp Neurol
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: gad1.1 lhx1 lhx2 lhx9 slc17a6