The laminar position, morphology, and gene expression profiles of cortical astrocytes are influenced by time of birth from ventricular/subventricular progenitors

Glia. 2024 Jun 9. doi: 10.1002/glia.24578. Online ahead of print.


Astrocytes that reside in superficial (SL) and deep cortical layers have distinct molecular profiles and morphologies, which may underlie specific functions. Here, we demonstrate that the production of SL and deep layer (DL) astrocyte populations from neural progenitor cells in the mouse is temporally regulated. Lineage tracking following in utero and postnatal electroporation with PiggyBac (PB) EGFP and birth dating with EdU and FlashTag, showed that apical progenitors produce astrocytes during late embryogenesis (E16.5) that are biased to the SL, while postnatally labeled (P0) astrocytes are biased to the DL. In contrast, astrocytes born during the predominantly neurogenic window (E14.5) showed a random distribution in the SL and DL. Of interest, E13.5 astrocytes birth dated at E13.5 with EdU showed a lower layer bias, while FT labeling of apical progenitors showed no bias. Finally, examination of the morphologies of "biased" E16.5- and P0-labeled astrocytes demonstrated that E16.5-labeled astrocytes exhibit different morphologies in different layers, while P0-labeled astrocytes do not. Differences based on time of birth are also observed in the molecular profiles of E16.5 versus P0-labeled astrocytes. Altogether, these results suggest that the morphological, molecular, and positional diversity of cortical astrocytes is related to their time of birth from ventricular/subventricular zone progenitors.

Keywords: astrocyte; cortical development; neural progenitor cell; radial glia; ventricular/subventricular zone.