The precursor function of the ubiquitous glial cell type in the developing central nervous system (CNS), the radial glia, is largely unknown. Using Cre/loxP in vivo fate mapping studies, we found that radial glia generate virtually all cortical projection neurons but not the interneurons originating in the ventral telencephalon. In contrast to the cerebral cortex, few neurons in the basal ganglia originate from radial glia, and in vitro lineage analysis revealed intrinsic differences in the potential of radial glia from the dorsal and ventral telencephalon. This shows that the progeny of radial glia not only differs profoundly between brain regions but also includes the majority of neurons in some parts of the CNS.
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