Indexed on: 07 Oct '03Published on: 07 Oct '03Published in: Journal of Comparative Neurology
The developmental mechanism that contributes to the highly organized axonal connections within the cerebral cortex is not well understood. This is partly due to the lack of molecular markers specifically expressed in corticocortical associative neurons during the period of circuit formation. We have shown previously that latexin, a carboxypeptidase A inhibitor, is expressed in intrahemispheric corticocortical neurons from the second postnatal week in the rat (Arimatsu et al.  Cereb. Cortex 9:569-576). In the present study, we first demonstrate in the adult rat that the orphan nuclear receptor Nurr1 is coexpressed in latexin-expressing neurons located in layer V, sublayer VIa, and the white matter of the lateral sector of the neocortex, and also in latexin-negative early born neurons in sublayer VIb of the entire neocortex. Virtually all Nurr1-expressing neurons exhibit immunoreactivity for phosphate-activated glutaminase but not for gamma-aminobutyric acid, suggesting that they are glutamatergic-excitatory neurons. By combining Nurr1 immunohistochemistry and 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine-birthdating, we then show that Nurr1 is expressed in (early born) subplate neurons and (later born) presumptive latexin-expressing neurons from embryonic day 18 onward. Finally, by combination of Nurr1 immunohistochemistry and retrograde tracing, we show that Nurr1-expressing neurons, including those in sublayer VIb, contribute predominantly to long-range intrahemispheric corticocortical projections. These results raise the possibility that Nurr1 plays a role in the establishment and maintenance of normal corticocortical circuitry and function.