Inner voices during the development of GABAergic neurons in the mouse brain
It is becoming evident that impairments of the neuronal circuitry during development are the basis for some human disorders including autism and schizophrenia, but alterations during the adult stages are also the cause of some pathologies such as Parkinson and Alzheimer. Therefore, to understand how synaptic wiring is formed and maintained is not only a major scientific challenge, but also has an important biomedical implication.
The GABAergic projection neurons called Medium Spiny Neurons (MSNs) represent almost 95% of the neuronal population of the striatum, the main inhibitory hub on the mammalian brain and associated to voluntary body movements, reward-associated learning, and memory, as well as controlling social behaviour. During striatal maturation, MSNs acquire their characteristic morphology and dendritic spines, as well their patterns of connectivity and electrophysiological properties.
Adult degeneration or loss of functions of the MSNs have been related with several neurological disorders including Parkinson disease, Huntington disease, Rett Syndrome, and bipolar disorders. The etiology of these pathologies implies not only the degeneration of the glutamatergic and dopaminergic inputs that relies into the striatum, but also alterations occurring during development that affect maturation and maintenance of the MSNs. Therefore, the understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing these processes constitute a challenge with very important scientific and medical implications.