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Dev Biol. 2006 May 15;293(2):358-69. Epub 2006 Apr 3.

Olig2-positive progenitors in the embryonic spinal cord give rise not only to motoneurons and oligodendrocytes, but also to a subset of astrocytes and ependymal cells.

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Division of Neurobiology and Bioinformatics, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8787, Japan.


Motoneurons and oligodendrocytes in the embryonic spinal cord are produced from a restricted domain of the ventral ventricular zone, termed the pMN domain. The pMN domain is the site of expression of two basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, Olig1 and Olig2, which are essential for motoneuron and oligodendrocyte development. Previous lineage-tracing experiments using Olig1-Cre and Olig2-GFP mice suggested that motoneurons and oligodendrocytes, but not astrocytes, are produced from the pMN domain. However, important questions remain, including the fate of neuroepithelial cells in the pMN domain, and specifically whether motoneurons and oligodendrocytes are the only types of cells produced in the pMN domain. We performed lineage-tracing experiments using a tamoxifen-inducible Cre-recombinase inserted into the Olig2 locus. We demonstrated that motoneurons and oligodendrocyte progenitors are derived from the Olig2+ progenitors in the pMN domain, and also found that a subset of astrocytes at the ventral surface of the spinal cord and ependymal cells at the ventricular surface are also produced from the pMN domain. These findings demonstrate that motoneurons and oligodendrocytes are not the only cell types originating from this domain.

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