Retinoic acid influences neuronal migration from the ganglionic eminence to the cerebral cortex

James E. Crandall, Timothy Goodman, Deirdre M. McCarthy, Gregg Duester, Pradeep G. Bhide, Ursula C. Draeger, Peter McCaffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The ganglionic eminence contributes cells to several forebrain structures including the cerebral cortex, for which it provides GABAergic interneurons. Migration of neuronal precursors from the retinoic-acid rich embryonic ganglionic eminence to the cerebral cortex is known to be regulated by several factors, but retinoic acid has not been previously implicated. We found retinoic acid to potently inhibit cell migration in slice preparations of embryonic mouse forebrains, which was reversed by an antagonist of the dopamine-D(2) receptor, whose gene is transcriptionally regulated by retinoic acid. Histone-deacetylase inhibitors, which amplify nuclear receptor-mediated transcription, potentiated the inhibitory effect of retinoic acid. Surprisingly, when retinoic acid signalling was completely blocked with a pan-retinoic acid receptor antagonist, this also decreased cell migration into the cortex, implying that a minimal level of endogenous retinoic acid is necessary for tangential migration. Given these opposing effects of retinoic acid in vitro, the in vivo contribution of retinoic acid to migration was tested by counting GABAergic interneurons in cortices of adult mice with experimental reductions in retinoic acid signalling: a range of perturbations resulted in significant reductions in the numerical density of some GABAergic interneuron subpopulations. These observations suggest functions of retinoic acid in interneuron diversity and organization of cortical excitatory-inhibitory balance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-735
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
Early online date11 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • cortical homeostasis
  • dopamine D-2 receptor
  • histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • interneurons
  • tangential migration
  • telencephalon
  • fetal valproate syndrome
  • embryonic mouse telencephalon
  • human neuroblastoma-cells
  • vitamin-A-deficiency
  • histone deacetylase
  • prenatal exposure
  • basal forebrain
  • developing hindbrain
  • autistic disorder
  • neurite outgrowth


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