Midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons degenerate in Parkinson's disease and are one of the main targets for cell replacement therapies. However, a comprehensive view of the signals and cell types contributing to mDA neurogenesis is not yet available. By analyzing the transcriptome of the mouse ventral midbrain at a tissue and single-cell level during mDA neurogenesis we found that three recently identified radial glia types 1-3 (Rgl1-3) contribute to different key aspects of mDA neurogenesis. While Rgl3 expressed most extracellular matrix components and multiple ligands for various pathways controlling mDA neuron development, such as Wnt and Shh, Rgl1-2 expressed most receptors. Moreover, we found that specific transcription factor networks explain the transcriptome and suggest a function for each individual radial glia. A network controlling neurogenesis was found in Rgl1, progenitor maintenance in Rgl2 and the secretion of factors forming the mDA niche by Rgl3. Our results thus uncover a broad repertoire of developmental signals expressed by each midbrain cell type during mDA neurogenesis. Cells identified for their emerging importance are Rgl3, a niche cell type, and Rgl1, a neurogenic progenitor that expresses ARNTL, a transcription factor that we find is required for mDA neurogenesis.
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