Preservation of positional identity in fetus-derived neural stem (NS) cells from different mouse central nervous system compartments

Marco Onorati, Maurizio Binetti, Luciano Conti, Stefano Camnasio, Giovanna Calabrese, Ilaria Albieri, Francesca Di Febo, Mauro Toselli, Gerardo Biella, Ben Martynoga, Francois Guillemot, G. Giacomo Consalez, Elena Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neural stem (NS) cells are a self-renewing population of symmetrically dividing multipotent radial glia-like stem cells, characterized by homogeneous expansion in monolayer. Herewe report that fetal NS cells isolated from different regions of the developing mouse nervous system behave in a similar manner with respect to self-renewal and neuropotency, but exhibit distinct positional identities. For example, NS cells from the neocortex maintain the expression of anterior transcription factors, including Otx2 and Foxg1, while Hoxb4 and Hoxb9 are uniquely found in spinal cord-derived NS cells. This molecular signature was stable for over 20 passages and was strictly linked to the developmental stage of the donor, because only NS cells derived from E14.5 cortex, and not those derived from E12.5 cortex, carried a consistent transcription factor profile. We also showed that traits of this positional code are maintained during neuronal differentiation, leading to the generation of electrophysiologically active neurons, even if they do not acquire a complete neurochemical identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1769-1783
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Neural development
  • Neural stem cells
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Positional identity
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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