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The primordial plexiform neuropil is very critical to neocortical development. The pioneer neurons, mainly Cajal-Retzius cells in the marginal zone, and sub-plate neurons in the subplate, differentiate from the primordial plexiform neuropil. In this study, the development of corpus callosum, visual cortex, and subcortical pathways has been observed in C57BL/6 mice with various methods, such as DiI labeling in vitro and in vivo, DiI and DiA in vitro double labeling, immunocytochemistry, and in vivo BrdU and Fast Blue labeling. As early as E14, the primordial plexiform neuropil can be found in the telencephalic wall, and it contains many pioneer neurons. On E15 the primordial plexiform neuropil differentiates into the marginal zone and the subplate. Cajal-Retzius cells exist in the marginal zone, and subplate neurons are in the subplate. Either Cajal-Retzius cells or subplate neurons have long projections toward the ganglionic eminence, suggesting that they migrate tangentially from the ganglionic eminence. Cajal-Retzius cells are involved in radial migration, and subplate neurons participate to guide pathfinding of subcortical pathways. This study reveals how the pioneer neurons, through radial and tangential migration, play an important role in neocortical formation and in the pathfinding of the corpus callosum and subcortical pathways. Furthermore, DiI labeling in vivo has demonstrated the presence of pioneer neurons all along the corpus callosum pathway, especially in the midline. This suggests that pioneer neurons may also play a role in guiding the pathfinding of the corpus callosum.

Original publication




Journal article


Anatomy and Embryology

Publication Date





437 - 453