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Ciba Found Symp. 1995;193:85-99; discussion 117-26.

Factors regulating the differentiation of neural precursors in the forebrain.

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  • 1Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Precursors from the neuroepithelium of the developing cortex and the adult subventricular zone can be cloned in vitro after stimulation with fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2), and they have the potential to give rise to both neurons and glia. The generation of neurons from these clones can be stimulated by either a factor derived from an astrocyte precursor line, Ast-1, or FGF-1. We have shown that neuronal differentiation stimulated by FGF-1 can be inhibited by diacylglycerol lipase inhibitor and mimicked by arachidonic acid, suggesting that the neuronal differentiation is signalled through the phospholipase C gamma pathway. The sequential expression of FGF-2, followed by FGF within the developing forebrain neuroepithelium, fits with the different functions that the two FGFs play in precursor regulation. We have shown that the precursor response to FGF-1 is regulated by a heparan sulphate proteoglycan expressed within the developing neuroepithelium. Precursors restricted to the astrocyte cell lineage can be stimulated by epidermal growth factor or FGF-2F however, the differentiation into glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive astrocytes appears to require a cytokine acting through the leukaemia inhibitory factor-beta receptor.

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