The patterns of deposition of thrombospondin (TSP), a trimeric extracellular matrix glycoprotein, were determined during the initial establishment of the external granule cell layer and the subsequent inward migration of granule cells forming the molecular and (internal) granule cell layers. The early homogeneous deposition of TSP became restricted to the rhombic lip in the region of granule cell exit from the neuroepithelium, and was present between migrating granule cells. During the later inward migration of granule cells, little TSP was associated with dividing granule cells; it was enriched in premigratory granule cells. With the cessation of migration, TSP was lost except in association with fasciculating axons in the molecular layer where staining persisted briefly. At the EM level, TSP was associated with the leading process of granule cells as they associated with Bergmann glial cells and migrated through the molecular layer. TSP was present within granule cell axons; Purkinje cells and their dendrites, as well as Bergmann glial fibers and endfeet were negative for TSP. When anti-TSP antibodies were added to explant cultures of cerebellar cortex during active granule cell migration, a dose-dependent inhibition of migration was observed. In control cultures, granule cells migrated into the (internal) granule cell layer, while granule cells exposed to anti-TSP antibodies were arrested within the external granule cell layer. These results suggest that TSP plays an important role in the histogenesis of the cerebellar cortex by influencing granule cell migration.

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