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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Jan; 87(1): 458–462.

Neurons and glia arise from a common progenitor in chicken optic tectum: demonstration with two retroviruses and cell type-specific antibodies.


We used a recombinant retrovirus to study cell lineage in the chicken optic tectum. The virus inserts the Escherichia coli lacZ (beta-galactosidase) gene into the genome of an infected cell; a histochemical stain marks the progeny of infected cells with a blue precipitate. We had previously shown that individual clones frequently contain diverse neuronal types. Now we asked whether individual clones contain glia as well as neurons. To this end, we constructed a virus in which lacZ is fused to a nuclear localization signal sequence from the simian virus 40 large tumor antigen. Cells infected with this virus are marked with blue nuclei instead of blue somata. In embryos injected with a mixture of the two retroviruses, individual clusters contained cells with only one label type (nuclear or cytoplasmic), thus verifying that clusters of cells were clones. Furthermore, it was possible to immunostain the somata of cells that had blue nuclei, whereas the blue cytoplasmic precipitate hampered immunostaining. Together, these methods allowed us to show that some clones contained neurons (neurofilament-positive) and two types of glia (glutamine synthetase-positive and glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive). This result demonstrates the existence of a common progenitor for neurons and glia in optic tectum.

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Selected References

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