The cerebellum is a highly conserved structure which exhibits patterns of gene expression and axonal connections that are organized into parasagittal domains. These aspects of the mature cerebellum are presaged during embryonic development by the expression patterns of vertebrate homologs of Drosophila segmentation genes. We wished to determine whether the parasagittal domains of gene expression are compartments of lineage restriction. To this end, a clonal analysis of the chick cerebellum was conducted with a complex retroviral library. From embryonic day (E) 8 to E12, clones derived from the more medial portion of the cerebellar ventricular zone (VZ) were observed to spread preferentially in the mediolateral direction, crossing the boundaries of the parasagittal domains of gene expression. In late embryonic and posthatch periods, VZ clones were found to comprise Purkinje cells, glial cells, or both types of cells. At these later times, clonally related glial cells formed tight parasagittal clusters, while clonally related Purkinje cells were scattered extensively in the anteroposterior direction. We propose that a subset of the cerebellar VZ clones, those with medial origins, undergoes a biphasic dispersion: an early phase of mediolateral dispersion and a late phase of anteroposterior dispersion. This novel pattern of clonal dispersion suggests that the cerebellar VZ is not partitioned into parasagittal domains of lineage restriction. It leaves open the possibility that the later dispersion along the anteroposterior axis results from the parasagittal patterns of gene expression in the developing cerebellar cortex.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.