The development of functional neural circuits relies upon the coordination of various cell types. In particular, astrocytes play a crucial role in orchestrating neural development by powerfully coordinating synapse formation and function, neuronal survival, and axon guidance. While astrocytes help to shape neural circuits in the developing brain, the mechanisms underlying their own development may play an equally crucial role in nervous system function. The onset of astrogenesis is a temporally regulated phenomenon that relies upon exogenously secreted cues and intrinsic chromatin changes. Defects in the mechanisms underlying astrogenesis or in astrocyte function during early development may contribute to the progression of a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders.
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