Loss of floor plate Netrin-1 impairs midline crossing of corticospinal axons and leads to mirror movements

Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 19;34(3):108654. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108654.


In humans, execution of unimanual movements requires lateralized activation of the primary motor cortex, which then transmits the motor command to the contralateral hand through the crossed corticospinal tract (CST). Mutations in NTN1 alter motor control lateralization, leading to congenital mirror movements. To address the role of midline Netrin-1 on CST development and subsequent motor control, we analyze the morphological and functional consequences of floor plate Netrin-1 depletion in conditional knockout mice. We show that depletion of floor plate Netrin-1 in the brainstem critically disrupts CST midline crossing, whereas the other commissural systems are preserved. The only associated defect is an abnormal entry of CST axons within the inferior olive. Alteration of CST midline crossing results in functional ipsilateral projections and is associated with abnormal symmetric movements. Our study reveals the role of Netrin-1 in CST development and describes a mouse model recapitulating the characteristics of human congenital mirror movements.

Keywords: brain development; motor control; neural circuit development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / pathology
  • Mice
  • Movement Disorders / metabolism*
  • Movement Disorders / pathology
  • Netrin-1 / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology


  • Ntn1 protein, mouse
  • Netrin-1