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J Neurosci. 2011 Feb 16;31(7):2413-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5249-10.2011.

Dorsal radial glial cells have the potential to generate cortical interneurons in human but not in mouse brain.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


Radial glial (RG) cells, in the neocortical ventricular/subventricular zone (VZ/SVZ), generate cortical projection neurons both in rodents and humans, but whether they can also generate cortical interneurons is not clear. We demonstrated both on cryosections and in cell cultures that in the human VZ/SVZ, cells can be double labeled with RG markers and calretinin (CalR) and GABA, markers that suggest interneuronal lineage. We examined in more detail the cell fate of human RG cells isolated from the VZ/SVZ at midterm. After 24 h, no CalR(+) or GABA(+) cells were seen in cultures, whereas 5-10% cells expressed Nkx2.1 and Dlx, two ventral transcription factors. CalR(+) and GABA(+) cells were apparent for the first time after 3 d in vitro, and their number increased in subsequent days, consistent with the gradual transition of RG cells into CalR(+) or GABA(+) cells. Indeed, the progeny of genetically labeled RG cells could be immunolabeled with antibodies to CalR and GABA or ventral transcription factors (Nkx2.1(+), Dlx(+)). In contrast to humans, in the embryonic mouse, similar experiments showed that only RG cells isolated from the subpallium (ganglionic eminence) generate CalR(+) or GABA(+) cells, whereas this was not the case with RG cells isolated from the pallium. These findings support the idea that human, but not mouse, dorsal RG cells have the potential to generate various subtypes of neocortical interneurons. Multiple progenitors and sites of cortical interneuron origin in human might be an evolutionary adaptation underlying brain expansion and the increased complexity of cortical circuitry in humans.

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