Riding the glial monorail: a common mechanism for glial-guided neuronal migration in different regions of the developing mammalian brain

Trends Neurosci. 1990 May;13(5):179-84. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(90)90044-b.


In vitro studies from our laboratory indicate that granule neurons, purified from early postnatal mouse cerebellum, migrate on astroglial fibers by forming a 'migration junction' with the glial fiber along the length of the neuronal soma and extending a motile 'leading process' in the direction of migration. Similar dynamics are seen for hippocampal neurons migrating along hippocampal astroglial fibers in vitro. In heterotypic recombinations of neurons and glia from mouse cerebellum and rat hippocampus, neurons migrate on astroglial processes with a cytology and neuron-glia relationship identical to that of homotypic neuronal migration in vitro. In all four cases, the migrating neuron presents a stereotyped posture, speed and mode of movement, suggesting that glial fibers provide a generic pathway for neuronal migration in developing brain. Studies on the molecular basis of glial-guided migration suggest that astrotactin, a neuronal antigen that functions as a neuron-glia ligand, is likely to play a crucial role in the locomotion of the neuron along glial fibers. The navigation of neurons from glial fibers into cortical layers, in turn, is likely to involve neuron-neuron adhesion ligands.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glycoproteins / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology


  • Astn1 protein, mouse
  • Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins