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J Neurosci. 2001 Nov 15;21(22):8854-62.

Multipotent stem cells from the mouse basal forebrain contribute GABAergic neurons and oligodendrocytes to the cerebral cortex during embryogenesis.

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  • 1Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York 12208, USA.


During CNS development, cell migrations play an important role, adding to the cellular complexity of different regions. Earlier studies have shown a robust migration of cells from basal forebrain into the overlying dorsal forebrain during the embryonic period. These immigrant cells include GABAergic neurons that populate the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. In this study we have examined the fate of other basal forebrain cells that migrate into the dorsal forebrain, identifying basal cells using an antibody that recognizes both early (dlx1/2) and late (dlx 5/6) members of the dlx homeobox gene family. We found that a subpopulation of cortical and hippocampal oligodendrocytes are also ventral-derived. We traced the origin of these cells to basal multipotent stem cells capable of generating both GABAergic neurons and oligodendrocytes. A clonal analysis showed that basal forebrain stem cells produce significantly more GABAergic neurons than dorsal forebrain stem cells from the same embryonic age. Moreover, stem cell clones from basal forebrain are significantly more likely to contain both GABAergic neurons and oligodendrocytes than those from dorsal. This indicates that forebrain stem cells are regionally specified. Whereas dlx expression was not detected within basal stem cells growing in culture, these cells produced dlx-positive products that are capable of migration. These data indicate that the developing cerebral cortex incorporates both neuronal and glial products of basal forebrain and suggest that these immigrant cells arise from a common progenitor, a dlx-negative basal forebrain stem cell.

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