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Development. 1993 Feb;117(2):553-61.

Multiple restricted lineages in the embryonic rat cerebral cortex.

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National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, UK.


We have labelled precursor cells in the embryonic rat cerebral cortex using BAG, a retroviral vector that expresses beta-galactosidase. We had previously reported that labelled precursor cells generate clusters of labelled cells that could be classified into four types by their morphological appearance and anatomical distribution (Price and Thurlow, 1988). In this study, we have used immunohistochemistry and intracellular dye labelling to identify the cell types that make up these clusters. We discovered that clusters are almost always composed of a single cell type. In addition to clusters composed entirely of neurones, we found four different types of glial cell clusters. In the grey matter, glial clusters are composed either of protoplasmic astrocytes, or of cells that have an astrocyte morphology, but no glial filaments. In the white matter, clusters are composed of either fibrous astrocytes or oligodendocytes. Our results indicate that each of these different cortical cell types is generated from a separate population of precursor cells.

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