Ontogeny of CX3CR1-EGFP expressing cells unveil microglia as an integral component of the postnatal subventricular zone

Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Feb 17:9:37. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00037. eCollection 2015.


The full spectrum of cellular interactions within CNS neurogenic niches is still poorly understood. Only recently has the monocyte counterpart of the nervous system, the microglial cells, been described as an integral cellular component of neurogenic niches. The present study sought to characterize the microglia population in the early postnatal subventricular zone (SVZ), the major site of postnatal neurogenesis, as well as in its anterior extension, the rostral migratory stream (RMS), a pathway for neuroblasts during their transit toward the olfactory bulb (OB) layers. Here we show that microglia within the SVZ/RMS pathway are not revealed by phenotypic markers that characterize microglia in other regions. Analysis of the transgenic mice strain that has one locus of the constitutively expressed fractalkine CX3CR1 receptor replaced by the gene encoding the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) circumvented the antigenic plasticity of the microglia, thus allowing us to depict microglia within the SVZ/RMS pathway during early development. Notably, microglia within the early SVZ/RMS are not proliferative and display a protracted development, retaining a more immature morphology than their counterparts outside germinal layers. Furthermore, microglia contact and phagocyte radial glia cells (RG) processes, thereby playing a role on the astroglial transformation that putative stem cells within the SVZ niche undergo during the first postnatal days.

Keywords: CX3CR1; microglia; neurogenesis; rostral migratory stream; subventricular zone.