Building bridges in the brain

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Science  14 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6543, pp. 699-700
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6543.699-d

Some 200 million axons connect the right hemisphere to the left through the brain's corpus callosum. A malformed or absent corpus callosum causes neurological or cognitive deficits. During development, astroglia build a substrate for axons to use in crossing the interhemispheric fissure. Signaling by Netrin 1 (NTN1) and its receptor, Deleted in Colorectal Carcinoma (DCC), guides axons to the midline. Morcom et al. show that NTN1 and DCC function even earlier to clear the path by regulating astroglial morphology and function. Without NTN1 and DCC function, astroglia that would normally build bridges across the interhemispheric fissure are unable to do so, and thus axons, no matter how well guided, struggle to build the corpus callosum.

eLife 10, e61769 (2021)

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