Estrogen promotes the initial migration and inception of NgCAM-dependent calcium-signaling by new neurons of the adult songbird brain

Sonya Williams, Caroline Leventhal, Vance Lemmon, Maiken Nedergaard, Steven A. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The adult avian forebrain continues to generate neurons from ventricular zone (VZ) precursor cells, whose neuronal progeny then migrate into the brain parenchyma. Migrating neurons respond to the Ig-family adhesion molecule NgCAM with increments in cytosolic calcium, and migration is disrupted by anti-NgCAM Ig. The calcium response to NgCAM is developmentally restricted to bipolar migrants during a period spanning 6 to 9 DIV. This period corresponds to the postmitotic age at which new neurons leave the adult VZ to traverse a subjacent layer of estrogen-receptive 'gatekeeper' neurons. Since neuronal passage through this layer occurs concurrently with the onset of NgCAM- dependent calcium signaling, we asked whether acquisition of the calcium response to NgCAM required estrogen exposure. Among neurons arising from explants of the adult finch neostriatal VZ, only those supplemented with estrogen developed calcium responses to NgCAM; neither explants raised in the absence of estrogen, nor those supplemented with testosterone, did so. Neurons in all three groups expressed NgCAM, had equivalent baseline calcium levels, and responded identically to K+-depolarization. Nonetheless, many more neurons migrated from explants of both finch and canary VZ raised in estrogen-supplemented media than from their estrogen-deprived counterparts, even though no effect of estrogen on neuronal survival per se was noted. These findings suggest that estrogen encourages the initial departure and assumption of signal competence by neurons arising from the adult avian VZ, thereby promoting their parenchymal recruitment and migration success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular and cellular neurosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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