Researchers have devised a way to distinguish between two similar, yet vitally different, proliferative cell types found in the developing brain. Their findings, published online in Nature, should prove useful in stem cell research.
The developing brain contains many different proliferative cell types including neural stem cells (NSCs), which can give rise to many different types of mature brain cell, and neuroblasts, which are more restricted in their fate. But the signalling differences between these two populations are poorly understood.
Nicholas Gaiano and colleagues now show that differences in the Notch signalling pathway - a highly conserved system known to influence cell fate decisions during embryonic and adult life - may account for the variation between the two cell types. The discovery has yielded a method for separating these two cell types in a dish, a feat that should help researchers to characterise them further.
Nicholas Gaiano (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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