The generation of neurons and oligodendrocytes from a common precursor cell

Neuron. 1991 Oct;7(4):685-93. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(91)90381-9.


We have used a recombinant retrovirus carrying the lacZ gene to study the developmental potential of precursor cells from the embryonic rat cerebral cortex in dissociated cell culture. Virus was used to label a small number of cultured cells genetically so that their fate could be determined. Infected clones were detected with an anti-beta-galactosidase serum, and the labeled cells were identified using monoclonal antibodies. The results revealed that most precursor cells generated a single cell type, the majority being either neurons or oligodendrocytes. However, a proportion of the neuronal clones also included oligodendrocytes. This proportion increased until embryonic day 16 when 18% of the neuronal clones were of this type. This suggests that during neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex there exists a cell with the potential to generate these two quite different neural cell types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology
  • Clone Cells
  • Genetic Markers
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Phenotype
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Retroviridae / genetics
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Genetic Markers