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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Feb 15;177(1):30-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2008.09.019. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Glial migratory streams in the developing hindbrain: a slice culture approach.

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Department of Pediatrics, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 5058, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Compared to our knowledge of neurogenesis, relatively little is known about glial cell specification and migration during central nervous system development. We have established a novel chick hindbrain slice preparation which permits examination of gliogenesis in its native environment, providing a means to study the signaling pathways involved in glial cell specification and migration during development. Cells in the hindbrain slice preparations mature in a manner which is similar to in vivo developmental timing and patterning paradigms. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we examined the effect of the retinoic acid signaling pathway on cells in these slices, showing that addition of exogenous trans-retinoic acid to slice cultures promotes expression of a marker of mature astrocytes, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), while the inhibition of endogenous retinoic acid synthesis reduces GFAP expression; the results suggest a role for retinoic acid in modulating glial differentiation. Using these hindbrain slice cultures, we have used two different approaches to label glial progenitors specifically at the ventricular zone and have observed for the first time the ventrally-directed migration of these cells from the ventricular zone of the hindbrain. This slice culture system is thus an innovative and robust tool for examining glial cell migration and the extracellular molecular and signaling pathways which regulate glial differentiation.

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