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Front. Mol. Neurosci., 01 November 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnmol.2011.00037

Spatiotemporal molecular approach of in utero electroporation to functionally decipher endophenotypes in neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Department of Molecular Animal Physiology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands

We have only just begun to decipher the complexity of our brain, including its maturation. Correct brain development and communication among brain areas are crucial for proper cognitive behavior. Brain area-specific genes expressed within a particular time window direct neurodevelopmental events such as proliferation, migration, axon guidance, dendritic arborization, and synaptogenesis. These genes can pose as susceptibility factors in neurodevelopmental disorders eventually resulting in area-specific cognitive deficits. Therefore, in utero electroporation (IUE)-mediated gene transfer can aid in creating valuable animal models in which the regionality and time of expression can be restricted for the targeted gene(s). Moreover, through the use of cell-type-specific molecular constructs, expression can be altered in a particular neuronal subset within a distinct area such that we are now able to causally link the function of that gene in that brain region to the etiology of the disorder. Thus, IUE-mediated gene transfer is an attractive molecular technique to spatiotemporally address the developmental aspects of gene function in relation to neurodevelopmental disorder-associated endophenotypes.

Keywords: neurodevelopment, in utero electroporation, animal model, gene transfer, migration, axon guidance

Citation: Kolk SM, de Mooij-Malsen AJ and Martens GJM (2011) Spatiotemporal molecular approach of in utero electroporation to functionally decipher endophenotypes in neurodevelopmental disorders. Front. Mol. Neurosci. 4:37. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2011.00037

Received: 08 July 2011; Accepted: 11 October 2011;
Published online: 01 November 2011.

Edited by:

Alistair N. Garratt, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany

Reviewed by:

Josef Kittler, University College London, UK
Patrick Chappell, Oregon State University, USA

Copyright: © 2011 Kolk, de Mooij-Malsen and Martens. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Sharon Margriet Kolk, Department of Molecular Animal Physiology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Geert Grooteplein Zuid 28, 6525 GA Nijmegen, Netherlands. e-mail: s.kolk@ncmls.ru.nl