The actin cytoskeleton is crucial for neuronal migration in the mammalian developing cerebral cortex. The adaptor protein Drebrin-like (Dbnl) plays important roles in reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, dendrite formation, and endocytosis by interacting with F-actin, cobl, and dynamin. Although Dbnl is known to be expressed in the brain, the functions of this molecule during brain development are largely unknown. In this study, to examine the roles of Dbnl in the developing cerebral cortex, we conducted experiments using mice of both sexes with knockdown of Dbnl, effected by in utero electroporation, in the migrating neurons of the embryonic cortex. Time-lapse imaging of the Dbnl-knockdown neurons revealed that the presence of Dbnl is a prerequisite for appropriate formation of processes in the multipolar neurons in the multipolar cell accumulation zone or the deep part of the subventricular zone, and for neuronal polarization and entry into the cortical plate. We found that Dbnl knockdown decreased the amount of N-cadherin protein expressed on the plasma membrane of the cortical neurons. The defect in neuronal migration caused by Dbnl knockdown was rescued by moderate overexpression of N-cadherin and αN-catenin or by transfection of the phospho-mimic form(Y337E, Y347E), but not the phospho-resistant form(Y337F, Y347F), of Dbnl. These results suggest that Dbnl controls neuronal migration, neuronal multipolar morphology, and cell polarity in the developing cerebral cortex via regulating N-cadherin expression.
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