A Stem Cell Niche for Intermediate Progenitor Cells of the Embryonic Cortex

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The excitatory neurons of the mammalian cerebral cortex arise from asymmetric divisions of radial glial cells in the ventricular zone and symmetric division of intermediate progenitor cells (IPCs) in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the embryonic cortex. Little is known about the microenvironment in which IPCs divide or whether a stem cell niche exists in the SVZ of the embryonic cortex. Recent evidence suggests that vasculature may provide a niche for adult stem cells but its role in development is less clear. We have investigated the vasculature in the embryonic cortex during neurogenesis and find that IPCs are spatially and temporally associated with blood vessels during cortical development. Intermediate progenitors mimic the pattern of capillaries suggesting patterns of angiogenesis and neurogenesis are coordinated during development. More importantly, we find that IPCs divide near blood vessel branch points suggesting that cerebral vasculature establishes a stem cell niche for intermediate progenitors in the SVZ. These data provide novel evidence for the presence of a neurogenic niche for intermediate progenitors in the embryonic SVZ and suggest blood vessels are important for proper patterning of neurogenesis.

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