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Keywords:

  • cell cycle regulation;
  • neurogenesis;
  • neuronal precursors;
  • Pax6;
  • radial glia;
  • Small eye

Abstract

Progression of progenitor cells towards neuronal differentiation is tightly linked with cell cycle control and the switch from proliferative to neuron-generating divisions. We have previously shown that the neuronal protein BM88 drives neuroblastoma cells towards exit from the cell cycle and differentiation into a neuronal phenotype in vitro. Here, we explored the role of BM88 during neuronal birth, cell cycle exit and the initiation of differentiation in vivo. By double- and triple-labelling with the S-phase marker BrdU or the late G2 and M-phase marker cyclin B1, antibodies to BM88 and markers of the neuronal or glial cell lineages, we demonstrate that in the rodent forebrain, BM88 is expressed in multipotential progenitor cells before terminal mitosis and in their neuronal progeny during the neurogenic interval, as well as in the adult. Further, we defined at E16 a cohort of proliferative progenitors that exit S phase in synchrony, and by following their fate for 24 h we show that BM88 is associated with the dynamics of neuron-generating divisions. Expression of BM88 was also evident in cycling cortical radial glial cells, which constitute the main neurogenic population in the cerebral cortex. In agreement, BM88 expression was markedly reduced and restricted to a smaller percentage of cells in the cerebral cortex of the Small eye mutant mice, which lack functional Pax6 and exhibit severe neurogenesis defects. Our data show an interesting correlation between BM88 expression and the progression of progenitor cells towards neuronal differentiation during the neurogenic interval.