Pyramidal cells of the cerebral cortex are born in the ventricular zone and migrate through the intermediate zone to enter into the cortical plate. In the intermediate zone, these migrating precursors move tangentially and initiate the extension of their axons by transiently adopting a characteristic multipolar morphology. We observe that expression of the forkhead transcription factor FoxG1 is dynamically regulated during this transitional period. By utilizing conditional genetic strategies, we show that the downregulation of FoxG1 at the beginning of the multipolar cell phase induces Unc5D expression, the timing of which ultimately determines the laminar identity of pyramidal neurons. In addition, we demonstrate that the re-expression of FoxG1 is required for cells to transit out of the multipolar cell phase and to enter into the cortical plate. Thus, the dynamic expression of FoxG1 during migration within the intermediate zone is essential for the proper assembly of the cerebral cortex.
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