Gde2 regulates cortical neuronal identity by controlling the timing of cortical progenitor differentiation

Marianeli Rodriguez, Jeonghoon Choi, Sungjin Park, Shanthini Sockanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The mammalian cortex is a multilaminar structure consisting of specialized layer-specific neurons that form complex circuits throughout the brain and spinal cord. These neurons are generated in a defined sequence dictated by their birthdate such that early-born neurons settle in deep cortical layers whereas late-born neurons populate more superficial layers. Cortical neuronal birthdate is partly controlled by an intrinsic clock-type mechanism; however, the role of extrinsic factors in the temporal control of cell-cycle exit is less clear. Here, we show that Gde2, a six-transmembrane protein that induces spinal neuronal differentiation, is expressed in the developing cortex throughout cortical neurogenesis. In the absence of Gde2, cortical progenitors fail to exit the cell cycle on time, remain cycling, accumulate and exit the cell cycle en masse towards the end of the neurogenic period. These dynamic changes in cell-cycle progression cause deficits and delays in deep-layer neuronal differentiation and robust increases in superficial neuronal numbers. Gde2-/- cortices show elevated levels of Notch signaling coincident with when progenitors fail to differentiate, suggesting that abnormal Notch activation retains cells in a proliferative phase that biases them to superficial fates. However, no change in Notch signaling is observed at the time of increased cell-cycle exit. These observations define a key role for Gde2 in controlling cortical neuronal fates by regulating the timing of neurogenesis, and show that loss of Gde2 uncovers additional mechanisms that trigger remaining neuronal progenitors to differentiate at the end of the neurogenic period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3870-3879
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012


  • Cortex
  • Differentiation
  • Gde2
  • Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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