From neural tube to spinal cord: The dynamic journey of the dorsal neuroepithelium

Susanna Ventriglia, Chaya Kalcheim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In a developing embryo, formation of tissues and organs is remarkably precise in both time and space. Through cell-cell interactions, neighboring progenitors coordinate their activities, sequentially generating distinct types of cells. At present, we only have limited knowledge, rather than a systematic understanding, of the underlying logic and mechanisms responsible for cell fate transitions. The formation of the dorsal aspect of the spinal cord is an outstanding model to tackle these dynamics, as it first generates the peripheral nervous system and is later responsible for transmitting sensory information from the periphery to the brain and for coordinating local reflexes. This is reflected first by the ontogeny of neural crest cells, progenitors of the peripheral nervous system, followed by formation of the definitive roof plate of the central nervous system and specification of adjacent interneurons, then a transformation of roof plate into dorsal radial glia and ependyma lining the forming central canal. How do these peripheral and central neural branches segregate from common progenitors? How are dorsal radial glia established concomitant with transformation of the neural tube lumen into a central canal? How do the dorsal radial glia influence neighboring cells? This is only a partial list of questions whose clarification requires the implementation of experimental paradigms in which precise control of timing is crucial. Here, we outline some available answers and still open issues, while highlighting the contributions of avian models and their potential to address mechanisms of neural patterning and function.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
StatePublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • BMP
  • Cell specification
  • Central canal
  • Dorsal interneurons
  • Ependyma
  • Epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  • Meninges
  • Neural crest
  • Neural tube
  • Notch
  • Radial glia
  • Roof plate
  • Wnt


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