Neural ectoderm was dissected from 9.5-day and 8.5-day gestation mouse embryos and divided into forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain and spinal cord regions. Forebrain and hindbrain material from 9.5-day neural ectoderm was further divided into presumptive choroid plexus regions and regions that would normally form nervous tissue in vivo. All tissues were plated onto a basement membrane substratum for culture in vitro. It was found that explants of neural ectoderm that would normally form choroid plexus in vivo, readily differentiated to form choroid plexus-like cells in culture. Cells from hindbrain segments and forebrain regions, which would normally form nervous tissue, also had the potential to differentiate into cells resembling the choroid plexus epithelium in culture, provided that the normal cell-cell interactions were disrupted. Cells from the midbrain neuromeres of 9.5-day embryos, which do not form a choroid plexus in vivo, did not form this lineage in vitro. However, cells cultured from the earlier head-fold stage midbrain neural ectoderm could develop into choroid plexus epithelium. There was no evidence that neural ectoderm from the spinal cord had the developmental potential to form choroid plexus epithelial cells at either of these two developmental stages. These studies show that the restrictions in the potential of neural ectoderm stem cells to form different lineages proceeds according to morphological divisions that appear along the anterior-posterior axis during the early stages of brain development. These results suggest that the division of neural ectoderm into segments which contain discrete stem cell populations may be a general feature of the early phase of development of the central nervous system.

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