Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


NImO Report Summary

Project ID: 616080
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Periodic Report Summary 2 - NIMO (Neural and Immune Orchestrators of Forebrain Wiring)

Brain functioning relies on complex circuits that begin to be established in the embryo by developmental programs which coordinate the assembly of millions of neurons. Such programs can be modulated by environmental signals, as illustrated by the fact that prenatal inflammation is a major risk factor for schizophrenia and autism. Understanding how embryonic programs and external signals control cerebral wiring is essential not only to progress in our comprehension of cerebral morphogenesis but also to provide a framework for assessing the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. Our NImO project takes advantage of mouse genetics to explores the role of two populations of cells in the development of the neocortex, which is essential for sensory perception, motor responses and cognition. First, we examine the roles of corridor neurons, which act as guidepost for sensory input to the neocortex. Second, we assess the functions of microglia, immune cells that reside in the brain from the earliest steps of embryogenesis and mediate inflammatory signals. We found that corridor neurons are essential for delineating the sizes of functional areas of the neocortex and contribute to the development of fear circuits. In parallel, we showed that microglia control the development of inhibitory circuits of the neocortex, thereby regulating the flow of information in this major brain structure. We also demonstrated that microglia respond even prenatally to a variety of external signals, revealing that this cell population constitutes an interface between environmental factors and the in utero assembly of brain circuits.

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