RNA on the brain: emerging layers of post-transcriptional regulation in cerebral cortex development

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2018 Jan;7(1):10.1002/wdev.290. doi: 10.1002/wdev.290. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Embryonic development is a critical period during which neurons of the brain are generated and organized. In the developing cerebral cortex, this requires complex processes of neural progenitor proliferation, neuronal differentiation, and migration. Each step relies upon highly regulated control of gene expression. In particular, RNA splicing, stability, localization, and translation have emerged as key post-transcriptional regulatory nodes of mouse corticogenesis. Trans-regulators of RNA metabolism, including microRNAs (miRs) and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), orchestrate diverse steps of cortical development. These trans-factors function either individually or cooperatively to influence RNAs, often of similar classes, termed RNA regulons. New technological advances raise the potential for an increasingly sophisticated understanding of post-transcriptional control in the developing neocortex. Many RNA-binding factors are also implicated in neurodevelopmental diseases of the cortex. Therefore, elucidating how RBPs and miRs converge to influence mRNA expression in progenitors and neurons will give valuable insights into mechanisms of cortical development and disease. WIREs Dev Biol 2018, 7:e290. doi: 10.1002/wdev.290 This article is categorized under: Gene Expression and Transcriptional Hierarchies > Regulatory RNA Nervous System Development > Vertebrates: Regional Development Adult Stem Cells, Tissue Renewal, and Regeneration > Stem Cells and Disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*


  • RNA