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Emerging evidence suggests that astrocytes may be as diverse in their physiological and functional characteristics as neurons. Ben Haim and Rowitch describe astrocyte heterogeneity, consider the mechanisms by which such diversity may arise and discuss the consequences of its disruption in disease.
The authors show that chronic neonatal hypoxia reduces GABAA receptor–mediated signaling to oligodendrocyte precursor cells in the cerebellar white matter and enhances their proliferation, delays oligodendrocyte maturation and disrupts myelination. Following hypoxia, treatment with a GABA uptake blocker restores myelination.
The developing human cortex contains diverse populations of neural progenitor cells, including a large proportion of outer radial glia (ORG), a progenitor type that is rare in the mouse. The authors identify a transcriptional signature of ORG characterized by markers of neuronal lineage fate and use single-cell analyses to contrast the heterogeneity of cortical progenitors across human, mouse and ferret.
The proneural factor Ascl1/Mash1 is an important regulator of embryonic neurogenesis. Here the authors identify that the microcephaly protein Cenpj/CPAP is essential for several microtubule-dependent steps in the neurogenic program driven by Ascl1 in the developing cerebral cortex.
The authors report that radial glia–like (oRG) progenitor cells are present in the mouse embryonic cortex and that these cells arise from asymmetric divisions of radial glia. In turn, they undergo asymmetric divisions to generate neurons.
Neural progenitor cell (NPC) profileration in mice is associated with oscillating patterns of expression of several transcription factors, whereas NPC differentiation is associated with the sustained, dominant expression of particular transcription factors.
A study now identifies a new progenitor subtype in the developing mouse cortex, similar to the outer radial glia progenitors described previously in human, ferret and other mammals with larger, folded brains.