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Distinctive population of Gfap-expressing neural progenitors arising around the dentate notch migrate and form the granule cell layer in the developing hippocampus



In the adult hippocampus, granule cells continue to be generated from astrocyte-like progenitors expressing glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) that differ from embryonic neocortical progenitors. However, during the embryonic period, dentate granule neurons and neocortical pyramidal neurons are derived from the ventricular zone (VZ) of the pallium. Our question is when do GFAP+ progenitors of granule neurons appear in the developing hippocampus during the embryonic period, and how do they form the granule cell layer. The present analysis using Gfap-GFP transgenic mice shows that the GFP+ distinct cell population first appears in the VZ of the medial pallium at the dorsal edge of the fimbria on embryonic day 13.5. During the perinatal period, they form a migratory stream from the VZ to the developing dentate gyrus, and establish the germinal zones in the migratory stream, and the marginal and hilar regions in the developing dentate gyrus. GFP+ cells in these regions were positive for Sox2 and Ki67, but negative for BLBP. GFP+ cells with Neurogenin2 expression were largely distributed in the VZ, whereas GFP+ cells with Tbr2 and NeuroD expressions were seen in the migratory stream and developing dentate gyrus. Prox1-expressing GFP+ cells were restricted to the developing dentate gyrus. These results suggest that distinctive Gfap-expressing progenitors arising around the dentate notch form germinal regions in the migratory stream and the developing dentate gyrus where they differentiate into granule neurons, indicating that distinct astrocyte-like neural progenitors continue to generate granule neurons, from the beginning of dentate development and throughout life. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:261–283, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.