Probing transcriptional specificities and fate potential of postnatal neural progenitors in the mouse forebrain

Abstract : During development, a remarkable coordination of molecular and cellular events leads to the generation of the cortex, which orchestrates most sensorimotor and cognitive functions. Cortex development occurs in a stepwise manner: radial glia cells (RGs) - the neural stem cells (NSCs) of the developing brain - and progenitor cells from the ventricular zone (VZ) and the subventricular zone (SVZ) sequentially give rise to distinct waves of nascent neurons that form cortical layers in an inside-out manner. Around birth, RGs switch fate to produce glial cells. A fraction of neurogenic RGs that lose their radial morphology however persists throughout postnatal life in the subventricular zone that lines the lateral ventricles. These NSCs give rise to different subtypes of olfactory bulb interneurons and glial cells, according to their spatial origin and location within the postnatal SVZ. These observations raise important unresolved questions on 1) the transcriptional coding of postnatal SVZ regionalization, 2) the potential of postnatal NSCs for cellular regeneration and forebrain repair, and 3) the lineage relationship and transcriptional specificities of postnatal NSCs and of their progenies. My PhD work built upon a previously published comparative transcriptional study of defined microdomains of the postnatal SVZ. This study highlighted a high degree of transcriptional heterogeneity within NSCs and progenitors and revealed transcriptional regulators as major hallmarks sustaining postnatal SVZ regionalization. I developed bioinformatics approaches to explore these datasets further and relate expression of defined transcription factors (TFs) to the regional generation of distinct neural lineages. I then developed a model of targeted ablation that can be used to investigate the regenerative potential of postnatal progenitors in various contexts. Finally, I participated to the development of a pipeline for exploring and comparing select populations of pre- and postnatal progenitors at the single cell level. Objective 1: Transcriptomic as well as fate mapping were used to investigate the relationship between regional expression of TFs by NSCs and their acquisition of distinct neural lineage fates. Our results supported an early priming of NSCs to produce defined cell types depending of their spatial location in the SVZ and identified HOPX as a marker of a subpopulation biased to generate astrocytes. Objective 2: I established a cortical lesion model, which allowed the targeted ablation of neurons of defined cortical layers to investigate the regenerative capacity and appropriate specification of postnatal cortical progenitors. Quantitative assessment of surrounding brain regions, including the dorsal SVZ, revealed a transient response of defined progenitor populations. Objective 3: We developed a transgenic mouse line, i.e. Neurog2CreERT2Ai14, which allowed the conditional labeling of birth-dated cohorts of glutamatergic progenitors and their progeny. We used fate-mapping approaches to show that a large fraction of Glu progenitors persist in the postnatal forebrain after closure of the cortical neurogenesis period. Postnatal Glu progenitors do not accumulate during embryonal development but are produced by embryonal RGs that persist after birth in the dorsal SVZ and continue to give rise to cortical neurons, although with low efficiency. Single-cell RNA sequencing revealed a dysregulation of transcriptional programs, which correlates with the gradual decline in cortical neurogenesis observed in vivo. Altogether, these data highlight the potential of transcriptomic studies to unravel but also to approach fundamental questions such as transcriptional changes occurring in a population of progenitors over time and participating to changes in their fate potential. This knowledge will be key in developing innovative approaches to recruit and promote the generation of selected cell types, including neuronal subtypes in pathologies.
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Guillaume Marcy. Probing transcriptional specificities and fate potential of postnatal neural progenitors in the mouse forebrain. Neurons and Cognition [q-bio.NC]. PSL Research University, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018PSLEP070⟩. ⟨tel-02177211⟩

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