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Spatial organization of astrocyte clones: The role of developmental progenitor timing.

Glia 2024 March 21
Astrocytes represent a diverse and morphologically complex group of glial cells critical for shaping and maintaining nervous system homeostasis, as well as responding to injuries. Understanding the origins of astroglial heterogeneity, originated from a limited number of progenitors, has been the focus of many studies. Most of these investigations have centered on protoplasmic and pial astrocytes, while the clonal relationship of fibrous astrocytes or juxtavascular astrocytes has remained relatively unexplored. In this study, we sought to elucidate the morphological diversity and clonal distribution of astrocytes across adult cortical layers, with particular emphasis on their ontogenetic origins. Using the StarTrack lineage tracing tool, we explored the characteristics of adult astroglial clones derived from single and specific progenitors at various embryonic stages. Our results revealed a heterogeneous spatial distribution of astroglial clones, characterized by variations in location, clonal size, and rostro-caudal dispersion. While a considerable proportion of clones were confined within specific cortical layers, others displayed sibling cells crossing layer boundaries. Notably, we observed a correlation between clone location and developmental stage at earlier embryonic stages, although this relationship diminished in later stages. Fibrous astrocyte clones were exclusively confined to the corpus callosum. In contrast, protoplasmic or juxtavascular clones were located in either the upper or lower cortical layers, with certain clones displayed sibling cells distributed across both regions. Our findings underscore the developmental origins and spatial distribution of astroglial clones within cortical layers, providing new insights into the interplay between their morphology, clonal sizes, and progenitor heterogeneity.

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