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Dev Biol. 2004 Jul 15;271(2):225-38.

Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of CNS radial glial cells and their transition to restricted precursors.

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Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, and W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8082, USA.


Radial glia are among the first cells that develop in the embryonic central nervous system. They are progenitors of glia and neurons but their relationship with restricted precursors that are also derived from neuroepithelia is unclear. To clarify this issue, we analyzed expression of cell type specific markers (BLBP for radial glia, 5A5/E-NCAM for neuronal precursors and A2B5 for glial precursors) on cortical radial glia in vivo and their progeny in vitro. Clones of cortical cells initially expressing only BLBP gave rise to cells that were A2B5+ and eventually lost BLBP expression in vitro. BLBP is expressed in the rat neuroepithelium as early as E12.5 when there is little or no staining for A2B5 and 5A5. In E13.5-15.5 forebrain, A2B5 is spatially restricted co-localizing with a subset of the BLBP+ radial glia. Analysis of cells isolated acutely from embryonic cortices confirmed that BLBP expression could appear without, or together with, A2B5 or 5A5. The numbers of BLBP+/5A5+ cells decreased during neurogenesis while the numbers of BLBP+/A2B5+ cells remained high through the beginning of gliogenesis. The combined results demonstrate that spatially restricted subpopulations of radial glia along the dorsal-ventral axis acquire different markers for neuronal or glial precursors during CNS development.

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