The structural organization of the lamprey extratelencephalic forebrain is re-examined from the perspective of the prosomeric segmental paradigm. The question asked was whether the prosomeric forebrain model used for gnathostomes is of material advantage for interpreting subdivisions in the lamprey forebrain. To this aim, the main longitudinal and transverse landmarks recognized by the prosomeric model in other vertebrates were identified in Nissl-stained lamprey material. Lines of cytoarchitectural discontinuity and contours of migrated neuronal groups were mapped in a two-dimensional sagittal representation and were also classified according to their radial position. Immunocytochemical mapping of calretinin expression in adjacent sections served to define particular structural units better, in particular, the dorsal thalamus. These data were complemented by numerous other chemoarchitectonic observations obtained with ancillary markers, which identified additional specific formations, subdivisions, or boundaries. Emphasis was placed on studying whether such chemically defined neuronal groups showed boundaries aligned with the postulated inter- or intraprosomeric boundaries. The course of diverse axonal tracts was studied also with regard to their prosomeric topography. This analysis showed that the full prosomeric model applies straightforwardly to the lamprey forebrain. This finding implies that a common segmental and longitudinal organization of the neural tube may be primitive for all vertebrates. Interesting novel aspects appear in the interpretation of the lamprey pretectum, the dorsal and ventral thalami, and the hypothalamus. The topologic continuity of the prosomeric forebrain regions with evaginated or non-evaginated portions of the telencephalon was also examined.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.