Progenitor Cells and Cell Fate

Professor Pat Levitt explains that progenitor cells express transcription factors that determine whether the cell becomes a neuron.

Progenitor cells produce particular kinds of neurons because different populations of progenitor cells express what we call a combination of genes knows as transcription factors that appear to control the fate – what the cell is going to become, essentially. Those transcription factors are expressed in different combinations and are responsible, for example, for a progenitor cell producing a motor neuron in one case, or a sensory neuron in another case, or a neuron that has a long axon in a third case, or a neuron that has a short axon in another case. Those transcription factors, which are expressed very early on, are responsible, in large part, for determining the kinds of cells that are going to be produced.

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