Onset of Spinal Cord Astrocyte Precursor Emigration from the Ventricular Zone Involves the Zeb1 Transcription Factor

Cell Rep. 2016 Nov 1;17(6):1473-1481. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.016.


During spinal cord development, astrocyte precursors arise from neuroepithelial progenitors, delaminate from the ventricular zone, and migrate toward their final locations where they differentiate. Although the mechanisms underlying their early specification and late differentiation are being deciphered, less is known about the temporal control of their migration. Here, we show that the epithelial-mesenchymal transition regulator Zeb1 is expressed in glial precursors and report that loss of Zeb1 function specifically delays the onset of astrocyte precursor delamination from the ventricular zone, correlating with transient deregulation of the adhesion protein Cadherin-1. Consequently, astrocyte precursor invasion into the Zeb1-/- mutant white matter is delayed, and induction of their differentiation is postponed. These findings illustrate how fine regulation of adhesive properties influences the onset of neural precursor migration and further support the notion that duration of exposure of migrating astrocyte precursors to environmental cues and/or their correct positioning influence the timing of their differentiation.

Keywords: Cadherin-1; GFAP; Sox9; Zeb1; Zeb2; astrocyte; cell migration; development; oligodendrocyte; spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1 / metabolism*


  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1