Radial glia is a progenitor of neocortical neurons in the developing cerebral cortex

Neurosci Res. 2001 Sep;41(1):51-60. doi: 10.1016/s0168-0102(01)00259-0.


Neocortical neurons are produced by cell division of neural stem cells in the ventricular zone of the cerebral cortex. We investigated the production of neurons by infecting neuroepithelial cells with a modified GFP-recombinant adenovirus. The adenovirus DNA is inherited by only one daughter cell at each cell division and travels one way from the progenitor to the progeny. Since the ventricular zone (VZ) of the embryo neocortex expressed an adenovirus receptor, CAR ubiquitously, morphology and cell-lineage of cells in the VZ could be revealed by the adenovirus infection. Radial glias, cells with a bipolar shape, and spherical cells were found as modified-GFP-positive (mGFP+) in the VZ. The bipolar cells (radial cells) had a radial process not in contact with the pia mater and a growth-cone-like structure at the edge of their radial process, while the radial glias had a process spanning all the cortical layers. Ten hours after viral infection, most mGFP+ cells were radial cells. In the following 8 h, the percentage of mGFP+ radial glias in mGFP+ neocortical cells increased from 18 to 50%, while that in radial/spherical cells decreased from 75 to 19%. The radial glias often divided asymmetrically and produced spherical cells and neuronal precursors. The spherical cells seemed to become radial cells by extending a radial process. The spherical cells, radial cells and radial glias seemed to constitute a proliferating cell cycle during which postmitotic neuronal precursors are produced. The neuronal precursors that inherited the radial processes migrated radially and developed into neocortical neurons. Four days after the viral infection, 97% of mGFP+ cells were neocortical neurons. Here, we propose that the radial glia is a progenitor of neocortical neurons, and that a significant number of radially migrating neurons is guided by their own radial processes connected to the pia mater.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Fetus
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Growth Cones / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Indicators and Reagents / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / ultrastructure*


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Receptors, Virus
  • adenovirus receptor
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins