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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Identification, regulation and lineage tracing of embryonic olfactory progenitors Murdoch, Barbara


Neurogenesis occurs in exclusive regions in the adult nervous system, the subventricular zone and dentate gyrus in the brain, and olfactory epithelium (OE) in the periphery. Cell replacement after death or injury, occurs to varying degrees in neural tissue, and is thought to be dependent upon the biological responses of stem and/or progenitor cells. Despite the progress made to identify adult OE and central nervous system (CNS) progenitors and lineage trace their progeny, our spatial and temporal understanding of embryonic OE neuroglial progenitors has been stalled by the paucity of identifiable genes able to distinguish individual candidate progenitors. In the developing CNS, radial glia serve as both neural progenitors and scaffolding for migrating neuroblasts and are identified by the expression of a select group of antigens, including nestin. Here, I show that the embryonic OE contains a novel radial glial-like progenitor (RGLP) that is not detected in adult OE. RGLPs express the radial glial antigens nestin, GLAST and RC2, but not brain lipid binding protein (BLBP), which, distinct from CNS radial glia, is instead found in olfactory ensheathing cells, a result confirmed using lineage tracing with BLBP-cre mice. Nestin-cre-mediated lineage tracing with three different reporters reveals that only a subpopulation of nestin-expressing RGLPs activate the “CNS-specific” nestin regulatory elements, and produce spatially restricted neurons in the OE and vomeronasal organ. The dorsal-medial restriction of transgene-activating cells is also seen in the embryonic OE of Nestin-GFP transgenic mice, where GFP is found in a subpopulation of GFP+ Mash1+ neuronal progenitors, despite the fact that endogenous nestin expression is found in RGLPs throughout the OE. In vitro, embryonic OE progenitors produce three biologically distinct colony subtypes, that when generated from Nestin-cre/ZEG mice, produce GFP+ neurons, recapitulating their in vivo phenotype, and are enriched for the most neurogenic colony subtype. Neurogenesis in vitro is driven by the proliferation of nestin+ progenitors in response to FGF2. I thus provide evidence for a novel neurogenic precursor, the RGLP of the OE, that can be regulated by FGF2, and provide the first evidence for intrinsic differences in the origin and spatiotemporal potential of distinct progenitors during OE development.

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