Cortical astrocytes develop in a plastic manner at both clonal and cellular levels. uri icon


  • Astrocytes play essential roles in the neural tissue where they form a continuous network, while displaying important local heterogeneity. Here, we performed multiclonal lineage tracing using combinatorial genetic markers together with a new large volume color imaging approach to study astrocyte development in the mouse cortex. We show that cortical astrocyte clones intermix with their neighbors and display extensive variability in terms of spatial organization, number and subtypes of cells generated. Clones develop through 3D spatial dispersion, while at the individual level astrocytes acquire progressively their complex morphology. Furthermore, we find that the astroglial network is supplied both before and after birth by ventricular progenitors that scatter in the neocortex and can give rise to protoplasmic as well as pial astrocyte subtypes. Altogether, these data suggest a model in which astrocyte precursors colonize the neocortex perinatally in a non-ordered manner, with local environment likely determining astrocyte clonal expansion and final morphotype.

publication date

  • October 25, 2019