Gene expression in cortical interneuron precursors is prescient of their mature function

Renata Batista-Brito, Robert MacHold, Corinna Klein, Gord Fishell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At present little is known about the developmental mechanisms that give rise to inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acidergic interneurons of the neocortex or the timing of their subtype specification. As such, we performed a gene expression microarray analysis on cortical interneuron precursors isolated through their expression of a Dlx5/6Cre-IRES-EGFP transgene. We purified these precursors from the embryonic mouse neocortex at E13.5 and E15.5 by sorting of enhanced green fluorescent protein-expressing cells. We identified novel transcription factors, neuropeptides, and cell surface genes whose expression is highly enriched in embryonic cortical interneuron precursors. Our identification of many of the genes known to be selectively enriched within cortical interneurons validated the efficacy of our approach. Surprisingly, we find that subpopulations of migrating cortical interneurons express genes encoding for proteins characteristic of mature interneuron subtypes as early as E13.5. These results provide support for the idea that many of the genes characteristic of specific cortical interneuron subtypes are evident prior to their functional integration into cortical microcircuitry. They suggest interneurons are already relegated to specific genetic subtypes shortly after they become postmitotic. Moreover, our work has revealed that many of the genes expressed in cortical interneuron precursors have been independently linked to neurological disorders in both mice and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2306-2317
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Cortical interneurons
  • Subtype specification
  • Transcriptional code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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