Ferret pyramidal cell dendritogenesis: Changes in morphology and ganglioside expression during cortical development

Mark Zervas, Steven U. Walkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Pyramidal cell ontogenesis and basilar dendritic differentiation were evaluated concomitantly with ganglioside expression and distribution in ferret cerebral cortex. Layer V neurons began basilar dendritogenesis on postnatal day 1 (P1) with a peak in dendritic arborization occurring at P21. Layer II/III neurons, in contrast, were in early stages of basilar dendritic differentiation at P14, resulting in a complex dendritic arbor at P28. High performance thin-layer chromatography showed numerous changes in ganglioside expression during cortical development, including a decline of GM2 in the mature cortex. The temporal expression and cellular distribution of GM2, GD2, GM1, GD3, and GM3 gangliosides in developing cerebral cortex were determined by immunocytochemistry. GM2 immunoreactivity (IR) was most prominent in layer V neurons between P1 and P21 and in layer II/III neurons between P14 and P28 with staining diminishing to near absent levels in the adult. GM2-IR appeared as punctate structures within the somatodendritic domain and by electron microscopy was shown to be membrane-bound vesicles often in close proximity to the plasmalemma. Expression of GM2, but not of other gangliosides studied, followed two well-documented developmental neurogenic gradients: ventrolateral to dorsomedial and radial (inside-first outside-last). Onset of significant GD2 expression in layer II/III and V pyramidal cells was delayed until P14 and persisted in adult neocortex. GD3 was localized most prominently to glial-like cells, whereas GM1 was primarily localized to white matter. The close temporal and spatial concordance of GM2-IR in cortical pyramidal neurons undergoing dendritogenesis is consistent with its proposed role as a modulator of dendritic differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-448
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 25 1999


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Dendrite
  • Differentiation
  • GM2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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