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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;17(6):648-57. Epub 2005 Oct 21.

Symmetric versus asymmetric cell division during neurogenesis in the developing vertebrate central nervous system.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.


The type and number of cell divisions of neuronal progenitors determine the number of neurons generated during the development of the vertebrate central nervous system. Over the past several years, there has been substantial progress in characterizing the various kinds of neuronal progenitors and the types of symmetric and asymmetric divisions they undergo. The understanding of the cell-biological basis of symmetric versus asymmetric progenitor cell division has been consolidated, and the molecular machinery controlling these divisions is beginning to be unravelled. Other recent advances include comparative studies of brain development in rodents and primates, as well as the identification of gene mutations in humans that affect the balance between the various types of cell division of neuronal progenitors.

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