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Keywords:

  • neurogenesis;
  • cortex;
  • retina;
  • centriole;
  • nuclear migration;
  • notch;
  • cell behavior;
  • cell cycle;
  • apical membrane

Abstract

The developing nervous system derives from neuroepithelial progenitor cells that divide to generate all of the mature neuronal types. For the proper complement of cell types to form, the progenitors must produce postmitotic cells, yet also replenish the progenitor pool. Progenitor divisions can be classified into three general types: symmetric proliferative (producing two progenitors), asymmetric neurogenic (producing one progenitor and one postmitotic cell), and symmetric neurogenic (producing two postmitotic cells). The appropriate ratios for these modes of cell division require intrinsic polarity, which is one of the characteristics that define neuroepithelial progenitor cells. The type of division an individual progenitor undergoes can be influenced by cellular features, or behaviors, which are heterogeneous within the population of progenitors. Here we review three key cellular parameters, asymmetric inheritance, cell cycle kinetics, and interkinetic nuclear migration, and the possible mechanisms for how these features influence progenitor fates. Developmental Dynamics 240:1865–1879, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.