Pattern Formation in the Mammalian Forebrain: Striatal Patch and Matrix Neurons Intermix Prior to Compartment Formation

Leslie A. Krushel, Gord Fishell, Derek van der Kooy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The striatum of the mammalian forebrain is divided into two compartments: the patches and the matrix. Neurons of the patch compartment in the rat striatum become postmitotic earlier in neurogenesis than neurons of the matrix compartment. The selective adhesion of patch neurons to one another has been suggested previously to be an important developmental mechanism of striatal compartmentation. We asked if the selective adhesion of patch neurons is expressed before or after the migration of the majority of the matrix neurons into the striatum. Patch neurons were labelled in vivo by a fluorescent retrograde tracer injected into the substantia nigra on embryonic day 19, which almost exclusively labelled patch neurons. Matrix neurons were labelled with a maternal injection of bromodeoxyuridine at embryonic day 18. When animals were killed at embryonic day 20, the majority of the retrogradely labelled patch neurons were intermixed with the bromodeoxyuridine‐labelled matrix neurons, although there appeared to be clustering of some of the patch neurons. However, by postnatal day 2 there was a complete segregation of the clusters of the retrogradely labelled patch neurons from the bromodeoxyuridine‐labelled matrix neurons in the striatum. This process was modelled in vitro. The patch and matrix compartments were labelled in vivo at embryonic day 13 and 18 respectively, with different birthdate markers ([3H]thymidine or bromodeoxyuridine). At embryonic day 20 the striatal tissue was removed, dissociated and reaggregated in suspension cultures. After 1 day in vitro, labelled patch and matrix neurons were randomly intermixed within the reaggregates. Examination of the cultures at 2.5 and 4 days in vitro revealed clumping of the labelled patch neurons towards the centres of the reaggregates. Over this same period, the labelled matrix neurons did not clump and were dispersed towards the periphery of the reaggregates. The results suggest that patch neuron adhesiveness may appear relatively soon after these neurons become postmitotic, but that this adhesiveness is unable to overcome the initial force produced by the massive migration of matrix neurons into the striatum. We hypothesize that a migratory phase of embryonic striatal development exists, when fated patch and matrix neurons intermix. After this migratory phase, patch neuron adhesiveness can produce the mature segregation of the striatal compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1210-1219
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1995


  • adhesion
  • compartment
  • development
  • neuronal birthdate
  • rat
  • reaggregate cultures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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