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Mechanisms That Determine the Internal Environment of the Developing Brain: A Transcriptomic, Functional and Ultrastructural Approach

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065629
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Anatomy And Physiology
  • Neurological System
  • Nervous System Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Neuroscience
  • Neurophysiology
  • Central Nervous System
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Medicine
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


We provide comprehensive identification of embryonic (E15) and adult rat lateral ventricular choroid plexus transcriptome, with focus on junction-associated proteins, ionic influx transporters and channels. Additionally, these data are related to new structural and previously published permeability studies. Results reveal that most genes associated with intercellular junctions are expressed at similar levels at both ages. In total, 32 molecules known to be associated with brain barrier interfaces were identified. Nine claudins showed unaltered expression, while two claudins (6 and 8) were expressed at higher levels in the embryo. Expression levels for most cytoplasmic/regulatory adaptors (10 of 12) were similar at the two ages. A few junctional genes displayed lower expression in embryos, including 5 claudins, occludin and one junctional adhesion molecule. Three gap junction genes were enriched in the embryo. The functional effectiveness of these junctions was assessed using blood-delivered water-soluble tracers at both the light and electron microscopic level: embryo and adult junctions halted movement of both 286Da and 3kDa molecules into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The molecular identities of many ion channel and transporter genes previously reported as important for CSF formation and secretion in the adult were demonstrated in the embryonic choroid plexus (and validated with immunohistochemistry of protein products), but with some major age-related differences in expression. In addition, a large number of previously unidentified ion channel and transporter genes were identified for the first time in plexus epithelium. These results, in addition to data obtained from electron microscopical and physiological permeability experiments in immature brains, indicate that exchange between blood and CSF is mainly transcellular, as well-formed tight junctions restrict movement of small water-soluble molecules from early in development. These data strongly indicate the brain develops within a well-protected internal environment and the exchange between the blood, brain and CSF is transcellular and not through incomplete barriers.

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