Once thought to merely act as scaffolds in neuronal migration, recent evidence suggests that radial glia may serve as progenitors for the majority of neurons in the CNS. Cre/loxP fate-mapping experiments were carried out using a fragment of a glial-specific promoter (glial fibrillary acidic protein; GFAP) to drive expression of Cre recombinase. We show that GFAP+ progenitor cells give rise to neurons and oligodendrocytes throughout the CNS. We find very little regional heterogeneity in the neurogenic potential of radial glia between dorsal and ventral telencephalon. Additionally, radial glia serve as precursors for subpopulations of interneurons in the ventral telencephalon. Interestingly, the human GFAP promoter but not the mouse GFAP promoter is active in oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. We also demonstrate that the most commonly used Cre reporter lines are very inefficient in detecting Cre-dependent recombination in astrocytes and describe a new Cre reporter line for assessing recombination in astrocytes.
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