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Radial glial cells
G-CSF receptor expression clearly delineates cells of radial glia in the embryonic murine brain. From Kirsch et al., 2008.[1]
Latin gliocytus radialis
Gray's subject #
MeSH [1]

Radial glial cells are a pivotal cell type in the developing central nervous system (CNS) involved in key developmental processes, from patterning and neuronal migration to their recently discovered role as precursors during neurogenesis.[2][3][4] They arise early in development from neuroepithelial cells. Radial phenotype is typically transient, but some cells, such as Bergmann glia in the cerebellum and Muller glia in the retina, retain radial glia-like morphology postnatally. According to recent research, during the late stages of cortical development, radial glial cells divide asymmetrically in the ventricular zone to generate radial glial cells, postmitotic neurons and intermediate progenitor cells. Intermediate progenitor cells then divide symmetrically in the subventricular zone to generate neurons. During gliogenesis, radial glial cells differentiate into astrocytes.[5][6][7]

The term 'radial glial cell' refers to their two major characteristics, their long radial processes extending from the ventricular zone (VZ) to the pial surface and their glial properties, such as the content of glycogen granules or the expression of the astrocyte-specific glutamate transporter or the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Another radial glia-specific protein is the brain lipid binding protein (FABP7), expression of which could be induced by Notch-1 activation,[8] in particular, when acted upon by reelin.[9] Interestingly, Notch 1, then activated before birth, induces radial glia differentiation,[10] but postnatally induces the differentiation into astrocytes.[11]

Studies show that radial glial cells characterized by long radial processes and astroglial properties constitute the majority of precursors during neurogenesis. Indeed, all radial glial cells divide throughout neurogenesis and give rise to the majority of projection neurons in the cerebral cortex.

Expression of the PAX6, a transcription factor, was found to be the key feature of neurogenic radial glia.[12][13]

Fgf10 has been shown to regulate the differentiation of radial glia from norepithelial cells. [14]

See also


  1. Kirsch F, Krüger C, Schneider A (2008). The receptor for granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is expressed in radial glia during development of the nervous system. BMC Dev. Biol. 8: 32.
  2. Noctor S, Flint A, Weissman T, Dammerman R, Kriegstein, A (February 2001). Neurons derived from radial glial cells establish radial units in neocortex. Nature 409 (6821): 714–20.
  3. Campbell K, Götz M (May 2002). Radial glia: multi-purpose cells for vertebrate brain development. Trends Neurosci. 25 (5): 235–8.
  4. Merkle FT, Tramontin AD, García-Verdugo JM, Alvarez-Buylla A (December 2004). Radial glia give rise to adult neural stem cells in the subventricular zone. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101 (50): 17528–32.
  5. Noctor S, Martinez-Cerdeno V, Ivic L, Kriegstein A (February 2004). Cortical neurons arise in symmetric and asymmetric division zones and migrate through specific phases. Nature Neuroscience 7 (2): 136–44.
  6. (2006). The role of intermediate progenitor cells in the evolutionary expansion of the cerebral cortex.. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) 16 Suppl 1: i152–61.
  7. Noctor S, Martinez-Cerdeno V, Kriegstein A (May 2008). Distinct behaviors of neural stem and progenitor cells underlie cortical neurogenesis. Journal of Comparative Neurology 508 (1): 28–44.
  8. Anthony TE, Mason HA, Gridley T, Fishell G, Heintz N (May 2005). Brain lipid-binding protein is a direct target of Notch signaling in radial glial cells. Genes Dev. 19 (9): 1028–33.
  9. Keilani S, Sugaya K (July 2008). Reelin induces a radial glial phenotype in human neural progenitor cells by activation of Notch-1. BMC Dev. Biol. 8 (1): 69.
  10. Gaiano N, Nye JS, Fishell G (May 2000). Radial glial identity is promoted by Notch1 signaling in the murine forebrain. Neuron 26 (2): 395–404.
  11. Chambers CB, Peng Y, Nguyen H, Gaiano N, Fishell G, Nye JS (March 2001). Spatiotemporal selectivity of response to Notch1 signals in mammalian forebrain precursors. Development 128 (5): 689–702.
  12. Götz M, Stoykova A, Gruss P (November 1998). Pax6 controls radial glia differentiation in the cerebral cortex. Neuron 21 (5): 1031–44.
  13. Mo Z, Zecevic N (June 2008). Is Pax6 critical for neurogenesis in the human fetal brain?. Cereb. Cortex 18 (6): 1455–65.
  14. Setsuko, Sahara, Dennis D.M.O'Leary (July 16, 2009). Fgf10 regulates transition period of corical stem cell differentiation to radial glia controlling generation of neurons and basal progenitors. Neuron 63: 48–62.

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