Nat Commun 11 (1) 2898 [2020-06-09; online 2020-06-09]
The sequential generation of layer-specific cortical neurons requires radial glia cells (RGCs) to precisely balance self-renewal and lineage commitment. While specific cell-cycle phases have been associated with these decisions, the mechanisms linking the cell-cycle machinery to cell-fate commitment remain obscure. Using single-cell RNA-sequencing, we find that the strongest transcriptional signature defining multipotent RGCs is that of G2/M-phase, and particularly CYCLIN-B1/2, while lineage-committed progenitors are enriched in G1/S-phase genes, including CYCLIN-D1. These data also reveal cell-surface markers that allow us to isolate RGCs and lineage-committed progenitors, and functionally confirm the relationship between cell-cycle phase enrichment and cell fate competence. Finally, we use cortical electroporation to demonstrate that CYCLIN-B1/2 cooperate with CDK1 to maintain uncommitted RGCs by activating the NOTCH pathway, and that CYCLIN-D1 promotes differentiation. Thus, this work establishes that cell-cycle phase-specific regulators act in opposition to coordinate the self-renewal and lineage commitment of RGCs via core stem cell regulatory pathways.