Kimura, Y., Satou, C., and Higashijima, S.I. (2008) V2a and V2b neurons are generated by the final divisions of pair-producing progenitors in the zebrafish spinal cord. Development (Cambridge, England). 135(18):3001-3005.
The p2 progenitor domain in the ventral spinal cord gives rise to two interneuron subtypes: V2a and V2b. Delta-Notch-mediated cell-cell interactions between postmitotic immature neurons have been implicated in the segregation of neuron subtypes. However, lineage relationships between V2a and V2b neurons have not been reported. We address this issue using Tg[vsx1:GFP] zebrafish, a model system in which high GFP expression is initiated near the final stage of p2 progenitors. Cell fates were followed in progeny using time-lapse microscopy. Results indicate that the vast majority, if not all, of GFP-labeled p2 progenitors divide once to produce V2a/V2b neuron pairs, indicating that V2a and V2b neurons are generated by the asymmetric division of pair-producing progenitor cells. Together with evidence that Notch signaling is involved in the cell fate specification process, our results strongly suggest that Delta-Notch interactions between sister cells play a crucial role in the final outcome of these asymmetric divisions. This mechanism for determining cell fate is similar to asymmetric divisions that occur during Drosophila neurogenesis, where ganglion mother cells divide once to produce distinct neurons. However, unlike in Drosophila, the divisional axes of p2 progenitors in zebrafish were not fixed. We report that the terminal division of pair-producing progenitor cells in vertebrate neurogenesis can reproducibly produce two distinct neurons through a mechanism that may not depend on the orientation of the division axis.