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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24538. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024538. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Adult spinal cord radial glia display a unique progenitor phenotype.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Life Sciences Institute and International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Radial glia (RG) are primarily embryonic neuroglial progenitors that express Brain Lipid Binding Protein (Blbp a.k.a. Fabp7) and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (Gfap). We used these transcripts to demarcate the distribution of spinal cord radial glia (SCRG) and screen for SCRG gene expression in the Allen Spinal Cord Atlas (ASCA). We reveal that neonatal and adult SCRG are anchored in a non-ventricular niche at the spinal cord (SC) pial boundary, and express a "signature" subset of 122 genes, many of which are shared with "classic" neural stem cells (NSCs) of the subventricular zone (SVZ) and SC central canal (CC). A core expressed gene set shared between SCRG and progenitors of the SVZ and CC is particularly enriched in genes associated with human disease. Visualizing SCRG in a Fabp7-EGFP reporter mouse reveals an extensive population of SCRG that extend processes around the SC boundary and inwardly (through) the SC white matter (WM), whose abundance increases in a gradient from cervical to lumbar SC. Confocal analysis of multiple NSC-enriched proteins reveals that postnatal SCRG are a discrete and heterogeneous potential progenitor population that become activated by multiple SC lesions, and that CC progenitors are also more heterogeneous than previously appreciated. Gene ontology analysis highlights potentially unique regulatory pathways that may be further manipulated in SCRG to enhance repair in the context of injury and SC disease.

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