Differentiation of radial glia-like cells from embryonic stem cells

Sean S. Liour, Robert K. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Radial glial cells play important roles in neural development. They provide support and guidance for neuronal migration and give rise to neurons and glia. In vitro, neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes can be generated from neural and embryonic stem cells, but the generation of radial glial cells from these stem cells has not yet been reported. Since the differentiation of radial glial cells is indispensable during brain development, we hypothesize that stem cells also generate radial glial cells during in vitro neural differentiation. To test this hypothesis, we utilized five different clones of mouse embryonic (ES) and embryonal carcinoma (EC) stem cell lines to investigate the differentiation of radial glial cells during in vitro neural differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that radial glia-like cells can be generated from ES/EC cell lines. These ES/EC cell-derived radial glia-like cells are similar in morphology to radial glial cells in vivo, i.e., they are bipolar with an unbranched long process and a short process. They also express several cytoskeletal markers, such as nestin, RC2, and/or GFAP, that are characteristics of radial glial cells in vivo. The processes of these in vitro generated radial glia-like cells are organized into parallel arrays that resemble the radial glial scaffolds in neocortical development. Since radial glia-like cells were observed in all five clones of ES/EC cells tested, we suggest that the differentiation of radial glial cells may be a common pathway during in vitro neural differentiation of ES cells. This novel in vitro model system should facilitate the investigation of regulation of radial glial cell differentiation and its biological function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2003


  • Gliogenesis
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuronal migration
  • Radial glial cell
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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