Astrocytes, which support diverse neuronal functions, are generated from multipotent neural stem/precursor cells (NS/PCs) during brain development. Although many astrocyte-inducing factors have been identified and studied in vitro, the regions and/or cells that produce these factors in the developing brain remain elusive. Here, we show that meninges-produced factors induce astrocytic differentiation of NS/PCs. Consistent with the timing when astrocytic differentiation of NS/PCs increases, expression of astrocyte-inducing factors is upregulated. Meningeal secretion-mimicking combinatorial treatment of NS/PCs with bone morphogenetic protein 4, retinoic acid and leukemia inhibitory factor synergistically activate the promoter of a typical astrocytic marker, glial fibrillary acidic protein. Taken together, our data suggest that meninges play an important role in astrocytic differentiation of NS/PCs in the developing brain.
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