A mapping label required for normal scale of body representation in the cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Apr;3(4):358-65. doi: 10.1038/73929.


The neocortical primary somatosensory area (S1) consists of a map of the body surface. The cortical area devoted to different regions, such as parts of the face or hands, reflects their functional importance. Here we investigated the role of genetically determined positional labels in neocortical mapping. Ephrin-A5 was expressed in a medial > lateral gradient across S1, whereas its receptor EphA4 was in a matching gradient across the thalamic ventrobasal (VB) complex, which provides S1 input. Ephrin-A5 had topographically specific effects on VB axon guidance in vitro. Ephrin-A5 gene disruption caused graded, topographically specific distortion in the S1 body map, with medial regions contracted and lateral regions expanded, changing relative areas up to 50% in developing and adult mice. These results provide evidence for within-area thalamocortical mapping labels and show that a genetic difference can cause a lasting change in relative scale of different regions within a topographic map.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cell Line
  • Ephrin-A5
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutagenesis / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Somatosensory Cortex / embryology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Thalamus / embryology
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Transfection


  • Ephrin-A5
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger