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Science. 1997 Oct 17;278(5337):477-83.

Regulation of gliogenesis in the central nervous system by the JAK-STAT signaling pathway.

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Division of Neuroscience, Children's Hospital, and Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


A mechanism by which members of the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF)-leukemia inhibitory factor cytokine family regulate gliogenesis in the developing mammalian central nervous system was characterized. Activation of the CNTF receptor promoted differentiation of cerebral cortical precursor cells into astrocytes and inhibited differentiation of cortical precursors along a neuronal lineage. Although CNTF stimulated both the Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) and Ras-mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways in cortical precursor cells, the JAK-STAT signaling pathway selectively enhanced differentiation of these precursors along a glial lineage. These findings suggest that cytokine activation of the JAK-STAT signaling pathway may be a mechanism by which cell fate is controlled during mammalian development.

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