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Dev Dyn. 2009 Oct;238(10):2564-74. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22088.

Neural stem cell self-renewal requires the Mrj co-chaperone.

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  • 1Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


The Mrj co-chaperone is expressed throughout the mouse conceptus, yet its requirement for placental development has prohibited a full understanding of its embryonic function. Here, we show that Mrj(-/-) embryos exhibit neural tube defects independent of the placenta phenotype, including exencephaly and thin-walled neural tubes. Molecular analyses revealed fewer proliferating cells and a down-regulation of early neural progenitor (Pax6, Olig2, Hes5) and neuronal (Nscl2, SCG10) cell markers in Mrj(-/-) neuroepithelial cells. Furthermore, Mrj(-/-) neurospheres are significantly smaller and form fewer secondary neurospheres indicating that Mrj is necessary for self-renewal of neural stem cells. However, the molecular function of Mrj in this context remains elusive because Mrj does not colocalize with Bmi-1, a self-renewal protein. Furthermore, unlike in Mrj(-/-) placentas, intermediate filament-containing aggregates do not accumulate in Mrj(-/-) neuroepithelium, ruling out nestin as a substrate for Mrj. Regardless, Mrj plays an important role in neural stem cell self-renewal.

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