Uhlén P, Fritz N, Smedler E, Malmersjö S, Kanatani S
Dev Neurobiol 75 (4) 360-368 [2015-04-00; online 2015-02-18]
The calcium ion (Ca(2+) ) is an essential second messenger that plays a pivotal role in neurogenesis. In the ventricular zone (VZ) of the neocortex, neural stem cells linger to produce progenitor cells and subsequently neurons and glial cells, which together build up the entire adult brain. The radial glial cells, with their characteristic radial fibers that stretch from the inner ventricular wall to the outer cortex, are known to be the neural stem cells of the neocortex. Migrating neurons use these radial fibers to climb from the proliferative VZ in the inner part of the brain to the outer layers of the cortex, where differentiation processes continue. To establish the complex structures that constitute the adult cerebral cortex, proliferation, migration, and differentiation must be tightly controlled by various signaling events, including cytosolic Ca(2+) signaling. During development, cells regularly exhibit spontaneous Ca(2+) activity that stimulates downstream effectors, which can elicit these fundamental cell processes. Spontaneous Ca(2+) activity during early neocortical development depends heavily on gap junctions and voltage dependent Ca(2+) channels, whereas later in development neurotransmitters and synapses exert an influence. Here, we provide an overview of the literature on Ca(2+) signaling and its impact on cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation in the neocortex. We point out important historical studies and review recent progress in determining the role of Ca(2+) signaling in neocortical development.