In the developing neocortex, pyramidal neurons use molecular cues to form axonal arbors selectively in the correct layers. Despite the utility of mice for molecular and genetic studies, little work has been done on the development of layer-specific axonal arborizations of pyramidal neurons in mice. We intracellularly labeled and reconstructed the axons of layer 2/3 and layer 5 pyramidal neurons in slices of primary somatosensory cortex from C57Bl6 mice on postnatal days 7-21. For all neurons studied, the development of the axonal arborizations in mice follows a pattern similar to that seen in other species; laminar specificity of the earliest axonal branches is similar to that of mature animals. At P7, pyramidal neurons are very simple, having only a main descending axon and few primary branches. Between P7 and P10, there is a large increase in the total number of axonal branches, and axons continue to increase in complexity and total length from P10 to P21. Unlike observations in ferrets, cats, and monkeys, two types of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons are present in both mature and developing mice; cells in superficial layer 2/3 lack axonal arbors in layer 4, and cells close to the layer 4 border have substantial axonal arbors within layer 4. We also describe axonal and dendritic arborization patterns of three pyramidal cell types in layer 5. The axons of tall-tufted layer 5 pyramidal neurons arborize almost exclusively within deep layers while tall-simple, and short layer 5 pyramidal neurons also project axons to superficial layers.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc