Neuronal migration is essential for proper cortical layer formation and brain function, because migration defects result in neurological disorders such as mental retardation and epilepsy. Neuronal migration is divided into several contiguous steps: early phase (multipolar mode), locomotion mode, and terminal translocation mode. The locomotion mode covers most of the migration route and thereby is the main contributor to cortical layer formation. However, analysis of the molecular mechanisms regulating this mode is difficult due to the secondary effects of defects at the early phase of migration. In this study, we established an ex vivo chemical inhibitor screening, allowing us to directly analyze the locomotion mode of migration. Roscovitine and PP2, inhibitors for Cdk5 and Src family kinases, respectively, suppressed the locomotion mode of migration. In line with this, a small percentage of Cdk5- or Src family kinase (Fyn)-knockdown cells exhibited locomoting morphology but retarded migration, although the majority of cells were stalled at the early phase of migration. We also showed that rottlerin, widely used as a specific inhibitor for protein kinase Cδ (PKCδ), suppressed the locomotion mode. Unexpectedly, however, the dominant-negative form as well as RNA interference for PKCδ hardly affected the locomotion, whereas they may disturb terminal translocation. In addition, we found JNK to be a potential downstream target of rottlerin. Taken together, our novel chemical inhibitor screening provides evidence that Cdk5 and Src family kinases regulate the locomotion mode of neuronal migration. It also uncovered roles for Fyn and PKCδ in the early and final phases of migration, respectively.
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