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Development. 2004 Aug;131(16):4059-70. Epub 2004 Jul 21.

Telomere shortening and chromosomal instability abrogates proliferation of adult but not embryonic neural stem cells.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología Celular, Universidad de Valencia, 46100 Burjassot, Spain.


Chromosome integrity is essential for cell viability and, therefore, highly proliferative cell types require active telomere elongation mechanisms to grow indefinitely. Consistently, deletion of telomerase activity in a genetically modified mouse strain results in growth impairments in all highly proliferative cell populations analyzed so far. We show that telomere attrition dramatically impairs the in vitro proliferation of adult neural stem cells (NSCs) isolated from the subventricular zone (SVZ) of telomerase-deficient adult mice. Reduced proliferation of postnatal neurogenic progenitors was also observed in vivo, in the absence of exogenous mitogenic stimulation. Strikingly, severe telomere erosion resulting in chromosomal abnormalities and nuclear accumulation of p53 did not affect the in vitro proliferative potential of embryonic NSCs. These results suggest that intrinsic differences exist between embryonic and adult neural progenitor cells in their response to telomere shortening, and that some populations of tissue-specific stem cells can bypass DNA damage check points.

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