Thrombospondin 4 deficiency in mouse impairs neuronal migration in the early postnatal and adult brain

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2014 Jul;61:176-86. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2014.06.010. Epub 2014 Jun 28.


In the post-natal rodent brain, neuronal precursors originating from the sub-ventricular zone (SVZ) migrate over a long distance along the rostral migratory stream (RMS) to eventually integrate the olfactory bulb neuronal circuitry. In order to identify new genes specifically expressed in the RMS, we have screened the Allen Brain Atlas Database. We focused our attention on Thrombospondin 4 (Thbs4), one of the 5 members of the Thrombospondin family of large, multidomain, extracellular matrix proteins. In post-natal and adult brain Thbs4 mRNA and protein are specifically expressed in the neurogenic regions, including the SVZ and along the entire RMS. RMS cells expressing Thbs4 are GFAP (Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein) positive astrocytes. Histological analysis in both wild-type and Thbs4 knock-out mice revealed no major abnormality in the general morphology of these neurogenic regions. Nevertheless, immunostaining for doublecortin demonstrates that in Thbs4-KO, migration of newly formed neurons along the RMS is somehow impaired, with several neurons migrating out of the RMS. This is further supported by a Bromodeoxyuridine-based in vivo approach showing a decrease in the number of newly born neuronal precursors reaching the olfactory bulb, while proliferation in the SVZ is not affected compared to wild-type, both in young animals (P15) and in adults (8 to 12 weeks of age). Corroborating this observation, the number of Parvalbumin- and Calbindin-immunoreactive interneurons in the olfactory bulb is also reduced in Thbs4-KO. Together, these observations support a role for the astrocyte-secreted protein Thbs4 in the migration of newly form neurons within the RMS to the olfactory bulb.

Keywords: Astrocytes; Extra-cellular matrix; Neurogenesis; Rostral-migratory stream; Thrombospondin 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Lateral Ventricles / cytology*
  • Lateral Ventricles / growth & development*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Thrombospondins / deficiency*
  • Thrombospondins / genetics


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thrombospondins
  • thrombospondin 4