The mammalian neocortex has a 6-layered cytoarchitecture, where early- and late-born neurons are positioned deeply and superficially, respectively. Inverted lamination has been observed in mice defective in the Reelin/Disabled-1 (Dab1) pathway. Considering that Dab1-deficient superficial layer neurons can migrate into the Dab1 +/+ cortical plate and that Dab1 is thought to function cell-autonomously, it is unclear why superficial layer neurons are positioned below deep layer neurons in Reelin/Dab1-deficient mice. Here, we reconfirmed that Dab1 -/- superficial layer neurons enter the cortical plate using in utero electroporation on embryonic day (E) 14.5 Dab1-floxed mice. Electroporation in E12.5 Dab1-floxed mice reconfirmed that many deep layer neurons were mispositioned below the subplate. We also found an accumulation of Dab1-deficient superficial layer neurons below the cortical plate in many of these brains, in which deep layer neurons below the subplate showed high cell density. These phenotypes were rescued by decreasing the knockout probability and by expressing Dab1 in deep layer neurons. These observations suggest that cell-dense Dab1 -/- deep layer neurons prevent Dab1 -/- superficial layer neurons from entering the cortical plate. This reflects a non-cell-autonomous function of Dab1 and may explain the preplate splitting failure and outside-in lamination observed in Reelin/Dab1-deficient mice.
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