The neocortex, the largest region of the cerebral cortex, processes sensory information giving rise to perception, volitional motor responses, and to complex phenomena such as learning and memory. These distinct functions are performed by specialized 'areas'of the neocortex, characterized by unique connectivity and architecture. The continuing objective of this project is to define and study developmental mechanisms that direct the anatomical, connectional, and functional organization of the mammalian neocortex, and its parcellation into areas. The specification and differentiation of neocortical areas is likely controlled by interplay between genetic regulation intrinsic to the neocortex and extrinsic influences such as thalamocortical (TCA) input that relays sensory information from the principal sensory nuclei of dorsal thalamus. A major recent advance is evidence for the genetic regulation of arealization that implicates the transcription factors EMX2 and PAX6 by loss of function analysis of mutants for Emx2 and Pax6 (Sey/Sey). However, this role for EMX2 and PAX6 is only inferred from changes in the patterned expression of genes used as positional markers in cortex because these mutants die on P0, well before areas become anatomically and functionally defined. The role of TCA input, which has been mainly limited to the finding that embryonic patterning of marker genes is normal in the absence of TCAs, is also limited because the available mutants that lack TCAs die at P0. Thus, mechanisms regulating arealization remain poorly characterized. Our goal is to define the sufficiency and requirements for EMX2 and PAX6 as intrinsic regulators, TCA input as an extrinsic influence, We will test our hypotheses using gain of function (transgenic) and loss of function (conditional knockouts) analyses, as well as genetic cell ablations, using tissue-specific gene activation / inactivation approaches in mice designed to live to be adults. We will analyze the area-specific phenotypes of cortical neurons, including expression of markers of positional identity, area-specific input and output projections, and the anatomical and functional organization of the neocortex into areas. The multilevel analyses and alternative strategies proposed will circumvent potential problems associated with more limited approaches, provide complementary findings to substantiate interpretations and further insights into the regulation of arealization. We expect findings that support our hypotheses, but the experiments are designed such that results that disprove our hypotheses will be equally informative.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurogenesis and Cell Fate Study Section (NCF)
Program Officer
Riddle, Robert D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Zembrzycki, Andreas; Perez-Garcia, Carlos G; Wang, Chia-Fang et al. (2015) Postmitotic regulation of sensory area patterning in the mammalian neocortex by Lhx2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:6736-41
Pao, Gerald M; Zhu, Quan; Perez-Garcia, Carlos G et al. (2014) Role of BRCA1 in brain development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:E1240-8
Hatori, Megumi; Gill, Shubhroz; Mure, Ludovic S et al. (2014) Lhx1 maintains synchrony among circadian oscillator neurons of the SCN. Elife 3:e03357
Del Barrio, Marta Garcia; Bourane, Steeve; Grossmann, Katja et al. (2013) A transcription factor code defines nine sensory interneuron subtypes in the mechanosensory area of the spinal cord. PLoS One 8:e77928
Kang, Ji-Yong; Kawaguchi, Daichi; Coin, Irene et al. (2013) In vivo expression of a light-activatable potassium channel using unnatural amino acids. Neuron 80:358-70
Chou, Shen-Ju; Babot, Zoila; Leingärtner, Axel et al. (2013) Geniculocortical input drives genetic distinctions between primary and higher-order visual areas. Science 340:1239-42
Zembrzycki, Andreas; Chou, Shen-Ju; Ashery-Padan, Ruth et al. (2013) Sensory cortex limits cortical maps and drives top-down plasticity in thalamocortical circuits. Nat Neurosci 16:1060-7
Sahara, Setsuko; Yanagawa, Yuchio; O'Leary, Dennis D M et al. (2012) The fraction of cortical GABAergic neurons is constant from near the start of cortical neurogenesis to adulthood. J Neurosci 32:4755-61
Hurtado de Mendoza, Tatiana; Perez-Garcia, Carlos G; Kroll, Todd T et al. (2011) Antiapoptotic protein Lifeguard is required for survival and maintenance of Purkinje and granular cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:17189-94
Chou, Shen-Ju; Perez-Garcia, Carlos G; Kroll, Todd T et al. (2009) Lhx2 specifies regional fate in Emx1 lineage of telencephalic progenitors generating cerebral cortex. Nat Neurosci 12:1381-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 46 publications