Generation of human pluripotent stem cell reporter lines for the isolation of and reporting on astrocytes generated from ventral midbrain and ventral spinal cord neural progenitors.
The foundation for the anatomical and functional complexity of the vertebrate central nervous system is laid during embryogenesis. After Spemann's organizer and its derivatives have endowed the neural plate with a coarse pattern along its anteroposterior and mediolateral axes, this basis is progressively refined by the activity of secondary organizers within the neuroepithelium that function by releasing diffusible signaling factors. Dorsoventral patterning is mediated by two organizer regions that extend along the dorsal and ventral midlines of the entire neuraxis, whereas anteroposterior patterning is controlled by several discrete organizers. Here we review how these secondary organizers are established and how they exert their signaling functions. Organizer signals come from a surprisingly limited set of signaling factor families, indicating that the competence of target cells to respond to those signals plays an important part in neural patterning.