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Guerrero-Flores, Gilda; Bastidas-Ponce, Aimee; Collazo-Navarrete, Omar; Guerra-Crespo, Magdalena; Covarrubias, Luis (2017)

FUNCTIONAL DETERMINATION OF THE DIFFERENTIATION POTENTIAL OF VENTRAL MESENCEPHALIC NEURAL PRECURSOR CELLS DURING DOPAMINERGIC NEUROGENESIS

Dev. Biol. 429(1):56-70
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The ventral mesencephalic neural precursor cells (vmNPCs) that give rise to dopaminergic (DA) neurons have been identified by the expression of distinct genes (e.g., Lmx1a, Foxa2, Msx1/2). However, the commitment of these NPCs to the mesencephalic DA neuronal fate has not been functionally determined. Evaluation of the plasticity of vmNPCs suggests that their commitment occurs after E10.5. Here we show that E9.5 vmNPCs implanted in an ectopic area of E10.5 mesencephalic explants, retained their specification marker Lmx1a and efficiently differentiated into neurons but did not express the gene encoding tyrosine hydroxylase (Th), the limiting enzyme for dopamine synthesis. A proportion of E10.5-E11.5 implanted vmNPCs behaved as committed, deriving into Th(+) neurons in ectopic sites. Interestingly, implanted cells from E12.5 embryos were unable to give rise to a significant number of Th(+) neurons. Concomitantly, differentiation assays in culture and in mesencephalic explants treated with Fgf2+LIF detected vmNPCs with astrogenic potential since E11.5. Despite this, a full suspension of E12.5 vmNPCs give rise to DA neurons in a similar proportion as those of E10.5 when they were transplanted into adult brain, but astrocytes were only detected with the former population. These data suggest that the subventricular postmitotic progenitors present in E12.5 ventral mesencephalon are unable to implant in embryonic explants and are the source of DA neurons in the transplanted adult brain. Based on our findings we propose that during DA differentiation committed vmNPCs emerge at E10.5 and they exhaust their neurogenic capacity with the rise of NPCs with astrogenic potential.