Pax6 influences the time and site of origin of glial precursors in the ventral neural tube

Mol Cell Neurosci. 1998 Nov;12(4-5):228-39. doi: 10.1006/mcne.1998.0711.


Neuroepithelial precursors in the ventral ventricular zone (VZ) of the spinal cord generate motor neurons (MNs) and interneurons, and then a subset of precursors starts to produce oligodendrocyte progenitors (OLPs). We show that OLPs originate in the ventral-most part of the Pax6-positive VZ, which at earlier times generates somatic (Isl2/Lim3-positive) MNs. In Small eye (Pax6-deficient) mice, the origin of OLPs is shifted dorsally and both OLPs and Isl2/Lim3 MNs are delayed. We suggest that somatic MNs and OLPs are generated sequentially from a common set of MN-OL precursors whose position in the VZ is influenced by Pax6. Neuron-glia fate switching might be a preprogrammed property of these precursors or a response to feedback from newly generated neurons. OLs developed normally in explants of Isl1(-/-) spinal cords, which lack MNs, arguing against feedback control and suggesting that the neuron-glia switch is an intrinsic developmental program in a specific subset of neural precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Heterozygote
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / embryology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins