The majority of neurons in the adult neocortex are produced embryonically during a brief but intense period of neuronal proliferation. The radial glial cell, a transient embryonic cell type known for its crucial role in neuronal migration, has recently been shown to function as a neuronal progenitor cell and appears to produce most cortical pyramidal neurons. Radial glial cell modulation could thus affect neuron production, neuronal migration, and overall cortical architecture; however, signaling mechanisms among radial glia have not been studied directly. We demonstrate here that calcium waves propagate through radial glial cells in the proliferative cortical ventricular zone (VZ). Radial glial calcium waves occur spontaneously and require connexin hemichannels, P2Y1 ATP receptors, and intracellular IP3-mediated calcium release. Furthermore, we show that wave disruption decreases VZ proliferation during the peak of embryonic neurogenesis. Taken together, these results demonstrate a radial glial signaling mechanism that may regulate cortical neuronal production.
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