The influence of ectopic migration of granule cells into the hilus on dentate gyrus-CA3 function

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 28;8(6):e68208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068208. Print 2013.


Postnatal neurogenesis of granule cells (GCs) in the dentate gyrus (DG) produces GCs that normally migrate from the subgranular zone to the GC layer. However, GCs can mismigrate into the hilus, the opposite direction. Previous descriptions of these hilar ectopic GCs (hEGCs) suggest that they are rare unless there are severe seizures. However, it is not clear if severe seizures are required, and it also is unclear if severe seizures are responsible for the abnormalities of hEGCs, which include atypical dendrites and electrophysiological properties. Here we show that large numbers of hEGCs develop in a transgenic mouse without severe seizures. The mice have a deletion of BAX, which normally regulates apoptosis. Surprisingly, we show that hEGCs in the BAX(-/-) mouse have similar abnormalities as hEGCs that arise after severe seizures. We next asked if there are selective effects of hEGCs, i.e., whether a robust population of hEGCs would have any effect on the DG if they were induced without severe seizures. Indeed, this appears to be true, because it has been reported that BAX(-/-) mice have defects in a behavior that tests pattern separation, which depends on the DG. However, inferring functional effects of hEGCs is difficult in mice with a constitutive BAX deletion because there is decreased apoptosis in and outside the DG. Therefore, a computational model of the normal DG and hippocampal subfield CA3 was used. Adding a small population of hEGCs (5% of all GCs), with characteristics defined empirically, was sufficient to disrupt a simulation of pattern separation and completion. Modeling results also showed that effects of hEGCs were due primarily to "backprojections" of CA3 pyramidal cell axons to the hilus. The results suggest that hEGCs can develop for diverse reasons, do not depend on severe seizures, and a small population of hEGCs may impair DG-dependent function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism
  • Secretory Vesicles / physiology*
  • Seizures / metabolism
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein