Deficiencies in either lamin B1 or lamin B2 cause both defective migration of cortical neurons in the developing brain and reduced neuronal survival. The neuronal migration abnormality is explained by a weakened nuclear lamina that interferes with nucleokinesis, a nuclear translocation process required for neuronal migration. In contrast, the explanation for impaired neuronal survival is poorly understood. We hypothesized that the forces imparted on the nucleus during neuronal migration result in nuclear membrane (NM) ruptures, causing interspersion of nuclear and cytoplasmic contents-and ultimately cell death. To test this hypothesis, we bred Lmnb1-deficient mice that express a nuclear-localized fluorescent Cre reporter. Migrating neurons within the cortical plate of E18.5 Lmnb1-deficient embryos exhibited NM ruptures, evident by the escape of the nuclear-localized reporter into the cytoplasm and NM discontinuities by electron microscopy. The NM ruptures were accompanied by DNA damage and cell death. The NM ruptures were not observed in nonmigrating cells within the ventricular zone. NM ruptures, DNA damage, and cell death were also observed in cultured Lmnb1 -/- and Lmnb2 -/- neurons as they migrated away from neurospheres. To test whether mechanical forces on the cell nucleus are relevant to NM ruptures in migrating neurons, we examined cultured Lmnb1 -/- neurons when exposed to external constrictive forces (migration into a field of tightly spaced silicon pillars). As the cells entered the field of pillars, there were frequent NM ruptures, accompanied by DNA damage and cell death.
Keywords: B-type lamins; nuclear envelope; nuclear lamins; nuclear membrane rupture.