Ding, YQ (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Neurosci, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China,email@example.com
The corpus callosum is the largest commissural system in the mammalian brain, but the mechanisms underlying its development are not well understood. Here we report that neuronal activity is necessary for the normal development and maintenance of callosal projections in the mouse somatosensory cortex. We labeled a subpopulation of layer II/III callosal neurons via in utero electroporation and traced their axons in the contralateral cortex at different postnatal stages. Callosal axons displayed region-and layer-specific projection patterns within the first 2 weeks postnatally. Prenatal suppression of neuronal excitation was achieved via electroporation-induced overexpression of the inward rectifying potassium channel Kir2.1 in layer II/III cortical neurons. This resulted in abnormal callosal projections with many axons extending beyond layers II-III to terminate in layer I. Others failed to terminate at the border between the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices. Blocking synaptic transmission via expression of the tetanus toxin light chain (TeNT-LC) in these axons produced a more pronounced reduction in the projections to the border region, and the eventual disappearance of callosal projections over the entire somatosensory cortex. When Kir2.1 and TeNT-LC were coexpressed, callosal axon targeting exhibited a more severe phenotype that appeared to represent the addition of the effects produced by individual expression of Kir2.1 and TeNT-LC. These results underscore the importance of activity in regulating the developing neural connections and suggest that neuronal and synaptic activities are involved in regulating different aspects of the development of callosal projection.