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Development. 2005 Dec;132(24):5503-14.

LIF and BMP signaling generate separate and discrete types of GFAP-expressing cells.

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  • 1Davee Department of Neurology, Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) signaling both promote the differentiation of neural stem/progenitor cells into glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoreactive cells. This study compares the cellular and molecular characteristics, and the potentiality, of GFAP(+) cells generated by these different signaling pathways. Treatment of cultured embryonic subventricular zone (SVZ) progenitor cells with LIF generates GFAP(+) cells that have a bipolar/tripolar morphology, remain in cell cycle, contain progenitor cell markers and demonstrate self-renewal with enhanced neurogenesis - characteristics that are typical of adult SVZ and subgranular zone (SGZ) stem cells/astrocytes. By contrast, BMP-induced GFAP(+) cells are stellate, exit the cell cycle, and lack progenitor traits and self-renewal--characteristics that are typical of astrocytes in the non-neurogenic adult cortex. In vivo, transgenic overexpression of BMP4 increases the number of GFAP(+) astrocytes but depletes the GFAP(+) progenitor cell pool, whereas transgenic inhibition of BMP signaling increases the size of the GFAP(+) progenitor cell pool but reduces the overall numbers of astrocytes. We conclude that LIF and BMP signaling generate different astrocytic cell types, and propose that these cells are, respectively, adult progenitor cells and mature astrocytes.

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