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Diversity of neural precursor cell types in the prenatal macaque cerebral cortex exists largely within the astroglial cell lineage.

  • Author(s): Cunningham, Christopher L;
  • Martínez-Cerdeño, Verónica;
  • Noctor, Stephen C
  • Editor(s): Nelson, Branden
  • et al.

The germinal zones of the embryonic macaque neocortex comprise the ventricular zone (VZ) and the subventricular zone (SVZ). The mammalian SVZ is subdivided into an inner SVZ and an outer SVZ, with the outer SVZ being particularly large in primates. The existence of distinct precursor cell types in the neocortical proliferative zones was inferred over 100 years ago and recent evidence supports this concept. Precursor cells exhibiting diverse morphologies, patterns of transcription factor expression, and fate potential have been identified in the neocortical proliferative zones. Neurogenic precursor cells are thought to exhibit characteristics of glial cells, but the existence of neurogenic precursor cells that do not share glial specific properties has also been proposed. Therefore, one question that remains is whether neural precursor cells in the prenatal neocortex belong within the astroglial cell class, as they do in neurogenic regions of the adult neocortex, or instead include a diverse collection of precursor cells belonging to distinct cell classes. We examined the expression of astroglial markers by mitotic precursor cells in the telencephalon of prenatal macaque and human. We show that in the dorsal neocortex all mitotic cells at the surface of the ventricle, and all Pax6+ and Tbr2+ mitotic cells in the proliferative zones, express the astroglial marker GFAP. The majority of mitotic cells undergoing division away from the ventricle express GFAP, and many of the GFAP-negative mitoses express markers of cells derived from the ventral telencephalon or extracortical sites. In contrast, a markedly lower proportion of precursor cells express GFAP in the ganglionic eminence. In conclusion, we propose that the heterogeneity of neural precursor cells in the dorsal cerebral cortex develops within the GFAP+ astroglial cell class.

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