Dividing glial cells maintain differentiated properties including complex morphology and functional synapses

Woo Ping Ge, Wei Zhou, Qingming Luo, Lily Yeh Jan, Nung Jan Yuh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


It is generally believed that dividing cells gain complex features of differentiation only after exiting the cell cycle because cell division and differentiation are both under such tight regulation that their coexistence is deemed unlikely. As the major proliferating cell type in the mammalian CNS, NG2 glial cells (NG2 cells) account for 5-8% of the glial cell population and form synaptic contacts with neurons. Here we report that NG2 cells divide while maintaining their differentiation, including morphological features, such as the elaboration of multiple complex cellular processes and physiological features including active glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic responses. Not only do NG2 cells continue to receive excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs as they undergo mitosis, a subpopulation of dividing NG2 cells can fire action potentials upon depolarization, thereby revealing that these dividing NG2 cells retain voltage-gated ion channels as well as transmitter receptors for signal processing. These findings provide a clear counterexample of the widely perceived incompatibility between cell division and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-333
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2009


  • Action potential
  • Differentiation
  • Mitosis
  • NG2 cells
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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