Transcriptional cascades that operate over the course of lineage development are fundamental mechanisms that control cellular differentiation. In the developing central nervous system (CNS), these mechanisms are well characterized during neurogenesis, but remain poorly defined during neural stem cell commitment to the glial lineage. NFIA is a transcription factor that plays a crucial role in the onset of gliogenesis; we found that its induction is regulated by the transcription factor Sox9 and that this relationship mediates the initiation of gliogenesis. Subsequently, Sox9 and NFIA form a complex and coregulate a set of genes induced after glial initiation. Functional studies revealed that a subset of these genes, Apcdd1 and Mmd2, perform key migratory and metabolic roles during astro-gliogenesis, respectively. In sum, these studies delineate a transcriptional regulatory cascade that operates during the initiation of gliogenesis and identifies a unique set of genes that regulate key aspects of astro-glial precursor physiology during development.
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