Genetic Mechanisms of Telencephalon Diversification Through Shifts in the Pallial-Subpallial Boundary
Rich, Constance Anne
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The vertebrate brain develops through the formation of compartments. These compartments are physically separated to allow for the proper differentiation of each structure within the brain. The telencephalon, a compartment analogous to the cerebral cortex of mammals, further subdivides once it is separated from the rest of the developing forebrain. The first division within the telencephalon splits it into the ventral and dorsal divisions, or the subpallial and pallial regions, respectively. The pallial-subpallial boundary (PSB) separates these regions to ensure proper development of each telencephalic structure. The pallium develops into memory storage and processing centers, and the subpallium further divides into the pallidum and the olfactory bulbs, which are involved in motor coordination and scent processing, respectively. Because of the different ecological niches occupied by cichlid species, they utilize certain telencephalic structures moreso than others and because of the space constraints, telencephalic morphology reflects these preferences. Mbuna species, which feed among the rocks scraping algae, utilize their sense of smell and have large olfactory bulbs. Non-mbuna species, which feed in the water column and utilize eyesight and possibly memory for recognition of prey, have larger pallial structures. These differences in structures are observed early in development shortly after the telencephalon separates from the remainder of the forebrain. Upon formation of the PSB, placement and angle of the boundary are distinctly different in mbuna and non-mbuna species. In mbuna species compared to non-mbuna species, the PSB is shifted dorsally, allowing more tissue to be allocated to the developing olfactory bulbs. The PSB is shifted ventrally in nonmbuna species to allocate more tissue to the progenitor cells that develop into the memoryx processing center and structures that process visual input. These observed shifts in the developmental boundaries within the brain may provide insight into the evolution of structures such as the cerebral cortex.