In developing brains, neural progenitors exhibit cell cycle-dependent nuclear movement within the ventricular zone [interkinetic nuclear migration (INM)] and actively proliferate to produce daughter progenitors and/or neurons, whereas newly generated neurons exit from the cell cycle and begin pial surface-directed migration and maturation. Dysregulation of the balance between the proliferation and the cell cycle exit in neural progenitors is one of the major causes of microcephaly (small brain). Recent studies indicate that cell cycle machinery influences not only the proliferation but also INM in neural progenitors. Furthermore, several cell cycle-related proteins, including p27kip1, p57kip2, Cdk5, and Rb, regulate the migration of neurons in the postmitotic state, suggesting that the growth arrest confers dual functions on cell cycle regulators. Consistently, several types of microcephaly occur in conjunction with neuronal migration disorders, such as periventricular heterotopia and lissencephaly. However, cell cycle re-entry by disturbance of growth arrest in mature neurons is thought to trigger neuronal cell death in Alzheimer's disease. In this review, we introduce the cell cycle protein-mediated regulation of two types of nuclear movement, INM and neuronal migration, during cerebral cortical development, and discuss the roles of growth arrest in cortical development and neurological disorders.
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