The human claustrum, a major hub of widespread neocortical connections, is a thin, bilateral sheet of grey matter located between the insular cortex and the striatum. The subplate is a largely transient cortical structure that contains some of the earliest generated neurons of the cerebral cortex and has important developmental functions to establish intra and extracortical connections. In human and macaque some subplate cells undergo regulated cell death, but some remain as interstitial white matter cells. In mouse and rat brains a compact layer is formed, layer 6b, and it remains underneath the cortex, adjacent to the white matter. Whether layer 6b in rodents is homologous to primate subplate or interstitial white matter cells is still debated. Gene expression patterns, such as those of Nurr1/Nr4a2, have suggested that the rodent subplate and the persistent subplate cells in layer 6b and the claustrum might have similar origins. Moreover, the birthdates of the claustrum and layer 6b are similarly precocious in mice. These observations prompted our speculations on the common developmental and evolutionary origin of the claustrum and the subplate. Here we systematically compare the currently available data on cytoarchitecture, evolutionary origin, gene expression, cell types, birthdates, neurogenesis, lineage and migration, circuit connectivity and cell death of the neurons that contribute to the claustrum and subplate. Based on their similarities and differences we propose a partially common early evolutionary origin of the cells that become claustrum and subplate, a likely scenario that is shared in these cell populations across all amniotes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
J Comp Neurol
claustrum, development, dorsal endopiriform nucleus, evolution, insular cortex, lateral amygdala, layer6b, subplate