During cerebral neocortical development, excitatory neurons are generated from radial glial cells in the ventricular zone (VZ) or from secondary progenitor cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ); these neurons then migrate toward the pial surface. We have observed that post-mitotic neurons generated directly in the VZ accumulated just above the VZ with a multipolar morphology, while secondary progenitor cells having a long ascending process left the VZ faster than the post-mitotic neurons. Recent observations of human developing neocortex have revealed the existence of radial glia-like progenitors (oRG cells) in the SVZ. This type of progenitor was first thought to be human specific; however, similar cells have also been found in mouse neocortex, and the morphology of these cells resembled that of some of the secondary progenitor cells that we had previously observed, suggesting the existence of a common architecture for the developing neocortex among mammals. In this review, we discuss the nature of the SVZ and its similarities and differences between humans and mice.
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