Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 691 - 698 (2010)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082670mm
© UPV/EHU Press

Microarchitectural changes during development of the cerebellar cortex

Miriam Mecha1, Angel L. Peña-Melián2 and Maria J. Blanco*,3

1Dpto. de Neurobiología Funcional y de Sistemas, Instituto Cajal, CSIC, 2Dpto. Anatomía y Embriología Humana I. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 3Dpto. de Ciencias Morfológicas, Fisiología y Biomedicina, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

ABSTRACT The cerebellum is a highly conserved structure in the Central Nervous System (CNS) of vertebrates, and is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor behaviour. Supporting this function, the cerebellar cortex presents a layered structure which requires a precise spatial and temporal coordination of proliferation, migration and differentiation events. One of the characteristics of the developing cortex is the formation of the external granule cell layer (EGL) in the outermost part. The EGL is a highly proliferative transient layer which disappears when cells migrate inwards to form the inner granule cell layer. The balance between proliferation and migration leads to changes in EGL thickness, and might be related to “indentations” observed in the surface of the developing chick cerebellum. We have extended the observation of this feature to quail and mouse, supporting the idea that this phenomenon forms part of the mechanisms of cerebellar morphogenesis. Different factors involved in both mitotic activity and migration were analyzed in this study. Our results indicate that proliferation, more than formation of raphes for cell migration, is involved in the formation of indentations in the EGL. In addition, we show that vessels penetrating from the pial surface divide the EGL into regular regions at the time of the appearance of bulges and furrows. We conclude that indentations are the result of a coincidence in time of both the increase in thickness of the EGL and the establishment of the embryonic vascular pattern, which confers a characteristic transitory morphology to the surface of folia.


EGL, raphes, indentation, radial glia, vascularization, Purkinje cell, Sonic hedgehog, mouse, chick, quail

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