Skip to main content

Transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of temporal patterning in neural progenitors


During development, neural progenitors undergo temporal patterning as they age to sequentially generate differently fated progeny. Temporal patterning of neural progenitors is relatively well-studied in Drosophila. Temporal cascades of transcription factors or opposing temporal gradients of RNA-binding proteins are expressed in neural progenitors as they age to control the fates of the progeny. The temporal progression is mostly driven by intrinsic mechanisms including cross-regulations between temporal genes, but environmental cues also play important roles in certain transitions. Vertebrate neural progenitors demonstrate greater plasticity in response to extrinsic cues. Recent studies suggest that vertebrate neural progenitors are also temporally patterned by a combination of transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms in response to extracellular signaling to regulate neural fate specification. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the study of temporal patterning of neural progenitors in Drosophila and vertebrates. We also discuss the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms, specifically the Polycomb group complexes and ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes, in the temporal patterning of neural progenitors.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2021.10.006