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Development. 2000 Mar;127(6):1277-90.

Different clonal dispersion in the rostral and caudal mouse central nervous system.

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  • 1Unité de Biologie moléculaire du Développement, Institut Pasteur, rue du Docteur Roux, France.


We have performed a systematic clonal analysis to describe the modes of growth, dispersion and production of cells during the development of the mouse neural system. We have used mice expressing a LaacZ reporter gene under the control of the neuron specific enolase promoter to randomly generate LacZ clones in the central nervous system (CNS). We present evidence for (1) a pool of CNS founder cells that is not regionalized, i.e. give descendants dispersed along the entire A-P axis, (2) an early separation between pools of precursors for the anterior and posterior CNS and (3) distinct modes of production of progenitors in these two domains. More specifically, cell growth and dispersion of the progenitors follow a relatively coherent pattern throughout the anterior CNS, a mode that leads to a progressive regionalization of cell fates. In contrast, cell growth of progenitors of the SC appears to involve self-renewing stem cells that progress caudally during regression of the mode. Therefore, at least part of the area surrounding the node is composed of precursors with self-renewing properties and the development of the trunk is dependent on pools of stem cells regressing from A to P. Taken together with our analysis of the cell growth changes associated with neuromere formation (Mathis, L., Sieur, J., Voiculescu, O., Charnay, P. and Nicolas, J. F. (1999) Development 126, 4095-4106), our results suggest that major transitions in CNS development correspond to changes in cell behavior and may provide a link between morphogenesis and genetic patterning mechanisms (i.e. formation of the body plan).

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