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J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 1;22(17):7518-25.

Plane of cell cleavage and numb distribution during cell division relative to cell differentiation in the developing retina.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Progenitor cells in the early developing nervous system can divide symmetrically, giving rise to two daughter cells that divide again, or asymmetrically, giving rise to one cell that differentiates and one that divides again. It has been suggested that the orientation of the cell cleavage plane during mitosis determines the type of division. A marker of early cell differentiation, the RA4 antigen, was used to identify regions of the developing chick retina with and without differentiating cells, and the orientation of the cleavage plane was characterized for mitotic figures in each region. No difference was found in the frequency of any orientation between the regions with or without differentiating cells. Furthermore, in the region of the retina with differentiating cells, the RA4 antigen was present in mitotic figures with every possible orientation. Thus, the orientation of the cleavage plane appears to be unrelated to whether or not a division produces a cell that differentiates. It has also been suggested that the intracellular protein Numb mediates neurogenesis via asymmetric localization during cell division. Numb localization was compared with expression of markers of early cell differentiation, the RA4 antigen and Delta. Differentiating and nondifferentiating cells were found both with and without Numb expression. Cells with a cleavage plane parallel to the retinal surface were polarized, such that Numb and/or the RA4 antigen, when present, were only in the daughter cell farthest from the ventricle. These findings indicate a need to reconsider current hypotheses regarding the key features underlying symmetric and asymmetric divisions in the developing nervous system.

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