Timing neurogenesis and differentiation: Insights from quantitative clonal analyses of cerebellar granule cells

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biology, Neurosciences Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 04/2008; 28(10):2301-12. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5157-07.2008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The cerebellum is an excellent model system to study how developmental programs give rise to exquisite neuronal circuits in the adult brain. Here, we describe our findings regarding granule cell neurogenesis and differentiation using the MADM method (mosaic analysis with double markers) in mice. By following the development of individual granule cell clones, we show that (1) granule cell precursors (GCPs) undergo predominantly symmetric division during postnatal development; (2) clonally related granule cells (GCs) exit the cell cycle within a narrow time window and stack their axons in the molecular layer in chronological order from deep to superficial sublayers; and (3) whereas the average GCP proliferation in the external granular layer is progressively slower as development proceeds, there is a rapid expansion of GCPs shortly before clonally related GCs exit the cell cycle. These properties produce GC clones that are distinct, each having a restricted axonal projection, but that are on average similar in cell number. We discuss possible developmental mechanisms and functional implications of these findings.

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