Cdc42 and Gsk3 modulate the dynamics of radial glial growth, inter-radial glial interactions and polarity in the developing cerebral cortex

Development. 2010 Dec;137(23):4101-10. doi: 10.1242/dev.048637.


Polarized radial glia are crucial to the formation of the cerebral cortex. They serve as neural progenitors and as guides for neuronal placement in the developing cerebral cortex. The maintenance of polarized morphology is essential for radial glial functions, but the extent to which the polarized radial glial scaffold is static or dynamic during corticogenesis remains an open question. The developmental dynamics of radial glial morphology, inter-radial glial interactions during corticogenesis, and the role of the cell polarity complexes in these activities remain undefined. Here, using real-time imaging of cohorts of mouse radial glia cells, we show that the radial glial scaffold, upon which the cortex is constructed, is highly dynamic. Radial glial cells within the scaffold constantly interact with one another. These interactions are mediated by growth cone-like endfeet and filopodia-like protrusions. Polarized expression of the cell polarity regulator Cdc42 in radial glia regulates glial endfeet activities and inter-radial glial interactions. Furthermore, appropriate regulation of Gsk3 activity is required to maintain the overall polarity of the radial glia scaffold. These findings reveal dynamism and interactions among radial glia that appear to be crucial contributors to the formation of the cerebral cortex. Related cell polarity determinants (Cdc42, Gsk3) differentially influence radial glial activities within the evolving radial glia scaffold to coordinate the formation of cerebral cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cell Shape
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / enzymology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / enzymology
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Growth Cones / metabolism
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nestin
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / enzymology*
  • Pseudopodia / enzymology
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nestin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein