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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2004;20:619-47.

Specification of temporal identity in the developing nervous system.

Author information

1
Institute of Neuroscience, Institute of Molecular Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1254 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.

Abstract

The nervous system of higher organisms exhibits extraordinary cellular diversity owing to complex spatial and temporal patterning mechanisms. The role of spatial patterning in generating neuronal diversity is well known; here we discuss how neural progenitors change over time to contribute to cell diversity within the central nervous system (CNS). We focus on five model systems: the vertebrate retina, cortex, hindbrain, spinal cord, and Drosophila neuroblasts. For each, we address the following questions: Do multipotent progenitors generate different neuronal cell types in an invariant order? Do changes in progenitor-intrinsic factors or progenitor-extrinsic signals regulate temporal identity (i.e., the sequence of neuronal cell types produced)? What is the mechanism that regulates temporal identity transitions; i.e., what triggers the switch from one temporal identity to the next? By applying the same criteria to analyze each model system, we try to highlight common themes, point out unique attributes of each system, and identify directions for future research.

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