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J Neurobiol. 1997 Oct;33(4):459-72.

Radial glial cell development and transformation are disturbed in reeler forebrain.

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Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Radial glia are among the earliest cell types to differentiate in the developing mammalian forebrain. Glial fibers span the early cortical wall, forming a dense scaffold; this persists throughout corticogenesis, providing a cellular substrate which supports and directs the migration of young neurons. Although the mechanisms regulating radial glial cell development are poorly understood, a secreted cortical radial glial differentiation signal was recently identified in the embryonic mouse forebrain. This signal is abundant at the time radial glia function to support neuronal migration, and down-regulated perinatally, when radial glia are known to undergo transformation into astrocytes. Therefore, it seems that this signal functions as a radial glial maintenance factor, the availability of which regulates the phenotype of cortical astroglia. Here the differentiation signal is further characterized as RF60, a protein with a molecular weight of approximately 60 kD. In addition, the neurologic mutant mouse reeler provides a genetic model for analysis of RF60 function. Radial glia in reeler cortex are shown to be poorly differentiated and the radial scaffold is shown to be maintained for a shorter time than normal. Furthermore, although astroglial cells from normal cortex are induced to elaborate a radial phenotype by RF60, reeler astroglia show an impaired differentiation response to this. These findings suggest that an intrinsic defect in glial differentiation contributes to the phenotype of abnormal cortical lamination seen in reeler mouse, and indicate that RF60 may play a critical role in normal cortical patterning.

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