Research Topic

Progenitor diversity and neural cell specification in the central nervous system

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The central nervous system (CNS) harbors an enormous diversity of neuronal and glial cell types, which can be identified according to morphological, chemical and electrical properties. This variety of cell types is generated from progenitor cells located in different germinative niches, where distinct ...

The central nervous system (CNS) harbors an enormous diversity of neuronal and glial cell types, which can be identified according to morphological, chemical and electrical properties. This variety of cell types is generated from progenitor cells located in different germinative niches, where distinct molecular signaling impinges onto cells and prompts distinctive transcription factor expression.
In the last two decades, it has been acknowledged that such progenitor diversity is important for the generation of different subtypes of neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Genetic fate-mapping studies have provided direct evidences for the contribution of separate cohorts of progenitor cells to generate individual subtypes of neurons and/or glial cells. Additionally, genetic deletions of single transcription factor and forced expression of ectopic transcription factors genes have pointed out the leading role of such molecules to the specification of different cell types.
However, other sources of data indicate that the environment plays important roles in cellular specification during central nervous system development, eventually overriding the influence of early transcription factor expression. These observations suggest that genetic determinants for both neuronal and glial specification would be changeable. However, it is still to be determined for how long in the neuronal and glial lineage genetic programs could be overwritten by external signals and which signals could do that.
The aim of this special research topic is to bring together original research and reviews that help to understand how genetics and environment influence the generation of different neuronal and glial cells in the central nervous system.


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