Mechanisms Regulating Lineage Diversity During Mammalian Cerebral Cortical Neurogenesis and Gliogenesis

  • Mark F. Mehler
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 39)


During mammalian cerebral cortical development, neural stem cells (NSCs) present within periventricular generative zones give rise to successive waves of neurons and radial glia, followed by oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. The molecular and cellular mechanisms that orchestrate these precisely timed and progressive maturational events are still largely undefined. These developmental processes are likely to involve the dynamic interplay of environmental signals, cell-cell interactions and transcriptional regulatory events. The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), an expanding subclass of the transforming growth factor β cytokine superfamily, may represent an important set of environmental cues for these progressive maturational events because of the broad profiles of developmental expression of the requisite BMP ligands, receptor subunits and intracellular transduction elements, and because of their versatile roles in promoting a spectrum of cellular processes intimately involved in progressive neural fate decisions. The BMPs also interact with complementary regional environmental signals such as the basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and sonic hedgehog (Shh) that promote earlier stages of NSC expansion, self-renewal, lineage restriction and incipient lineage commitment. The ability of these cytokines and trophic signals to act within specific neurodevelopmental contexts may, in turn, depend on the composite actions of cell-cell contact-associated signals, such as Notch-Hes-mediated lateral inhibitory pathways, and additional transcriptional modulatory events, such as those mediated by members of the inhibitor of differentiation (ID) gene family that encode a novel set of negative basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors. In this chapter, we will examine the distinct roles of these different classes of developmental cues in defining the biological properties of an integrated cerebral cortical developmental signaling network. Ongoing studies in this exciting area of mammalian central nervous system (CNS) development will help to identify important molecular and cellular targets for evolving pharmacological, gene and stem cell therapeutic interventions to combat the pathological sequelae of a spectrum of acquired and genetic disorders of the central nervous system.


Bone Morphogenetic Protein Radial Glia Bone Morphogenetic Protein Signaling bHLH Protein bHLH Gene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark F. Mehler
    • 1
  1. 1.F.M. Kirby Program in Neural Protection and Repair, Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Einstein Comprehensive Cancer CenterAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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