During development, cortical interneurons generated from the ventral telencephalon migrate tangentially into the dorsal telencephalon. Although Achaete-scute family bHLH transcription factor 1 (Ascl1) plays important roles in the developing telencephalon, whether Ascl1 regulates tangential migration remains unclear. Here, we found that Ascl1 promoted tangential migration along the ventricular zone/subventricular zone (VZ/SVZ) and intermediate zone (IZ) of the dorsal telencephalon. Distal-less homeobox 2 (Dlx2) acted downstream of Ascl1 in promoting tangential migration along the VZ/SVZ but not IZ. We further identified Eph receptor B2 (Ephb2) as a direct target of Ascl1. Knockdown of EphB2 disrupted the separation of the VZ/SVZ and IZ migratory routes. Ephrin-A5, a ligand of EphB2, was sufficient to repel both Ascl1-expressing cells in vitro and tangentially migrating cortical interneurons in vivo. Together, our results demonstrate that Ascl1 induces expression of Dlx2 and Ephb2 to maintain distinct tangential migratory routes in the dorsal telencephalon.
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