J. Comp. Neurol. 438: 1-11 (2001)

Development of GABA-immunoreactive neuron patterning in the spinal cord.

E. Binor & R. D. Heathcote

In the frog Xenopus laevis, GABA-immunoreactive spinal cord neurons (Kolmer-Agduhr cells) formed a dispersed pattern within two columns on either side of the midline.  The cellular pattern became established during embryonic and larval development. The GABA-immunoreactive cells are cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons that began to appear by 1.2 days (st 26) of development.  This occurred shortly after neural tube closure (0.9 days, st 21) and followed the appearance of ultrastructural characteristics of CSF-contacting neurons.  The pattern of GABA-immunoreactive cells emerged during embryogenesis, as their density increased.  Each longitudinal column was heterogeneous, containing cells with and without GABA immunoreactivity.  Spatial analysis at several embryonic and larval stages showed that the cells in each column formed a nonrandom, dispersed pattern even at early stages of differentiation. This one-dimensional pattern resembled that of dopamine-immunoreactive neurons, which are also located in the ventral spinal cord.  The patterning of both cell types followed a different time course, but the ultimate spacing of the neurons remained comparable.  These results suggested that the mechanism patterning the two cell types within the same region was similar but not identical and may involve related molecular mechanisms.