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Guidance Counselors

Cell-adhesion molecules help newborn neurons migrate to their intended destinations within the neocortex.

Chris Palmer

IN PLACE: Cerebral cortex neurons, like these from an adult mouse, reach their final destination with the help of guidance cells and binding molecules called nectins.COURTESY OF ULRICH MUELLER

EDITOR'S CHOICE IN NEUROSCIENCE

The paper
C. Gil-Sanz et al., “Cajal-Retzius cells instruct neuronal migration by coincidence signaling between secreted and contact-dependent
guidance cues,” Neuron, 79:461-77, 2013.

The finding
During development, a large signaling molecule named reelin coordinates the outward migration of neurons from the inner neocortex, with help from a cell-adhesion molecule, cadherin 2. “The problem is that cadherin 2 is expressed all over the cortex in all cell types,” says Ulrich Mueller, a neuroscientist at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. “How could you use that to make a specific connection?” Now Mueller and his team have shown that two cell-adhesion and signaling proteins called nectins guide neurons to specific cortical destinations.

The migration
Mueller’s...

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