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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2014 Nov 20;7(1):a020362. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a020362.

Astrocyte development and heterogeneity.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics and Edythe Broad Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regeneration Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.
2
Department of Neurosurgery, Eli and Edythe Broad Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regeneration Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.
3
Department of Pediatrics and Edythe Broad Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regeneration Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143 Department of Neurosurgery, Eli and Edythe Broad Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regeneration Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.

Abstract

Astrocytes have many roles within the brain parenchyma, and a subpopulation restricted to germinal niches functions as neural stem cells (NSCs) that produce various types of neuronal progeny in relation to spatiotemporal factors. A growing body of evidence supports the concept of morphological and molecular differences between astrocytes in different brain regions, which might relate to their derivation from regionally patterned radial glia. Indeed, the notion that astrocytes are molecularly and functionally heterogeneous could help explain how the central nervous system (CNS) retains embryonic positional information into adulthood. Here, we discuss recent evidence for regionally encoded functions of astrocytes in the developing and adult CNS to provide an integrated concept of the origin and possible function of astrocyte heterogeneity. We focus on the regionalization of NSCs in the ventricular-subventricular zone (V-SVZ) of the adult mammalian brain and emerging evidence for a segmental organization of astrocytes in the developing spinal cord and forebrain. We propose that astrocytes' diversity will provide fundamental clues to understand regional brain organization and function.

PMID:
25414368
PMCID:
PMC4292163
DOI:
10.1101/cshperspect.a020362
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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